Today, the phrase ‘Sleep like a baby’ is reduced to a mere statement as there are cases of more and more kids facing the issue of sleeplessness. Out of the 24 hours in a day, kids should sleep at least for 10-11 hours theoretically, but the increasing number of kids aren’t rendering to these elementary criteria, thus suffering from mental and physical health problems. With the world we are active in, where we have adapted to all sophisticated ways of living, it’s almost become a new normal, but hold on – is it really normal for kids to suffer from this issue? Well, absolutely no. These are in fact hidden signs of health issues that the child might be enduring. Prompt attention to these signs can result in diagnosing early and assist the child to have normal health. Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder and Director at Docterz explains all the aspects of sleep deprivation in kids.
Pediatric Sleep Apnea
One of the most common health risks is pediatric sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent form which basically blocks the airway while sleeping resulting in blocked airflow. And if the child is obese, added pressure is put on the upper airway leading to its disruption. Breastfeeding protects from upper airway dysfunction that causes sleep disorder breathing. This risk is reduced with continued breastfeeding and hence this is also one of the reasons why it is recommended to breastfeed newborns for a minimum of six months.
The pediatric sleep apnea shouldn’t be ignored and left untreated as it can lead to grave health conditions concerns related to the heart- especially in obese kids and behavior problems.
Obesity is another common attribute for lack of sleep in kids. While it was always understood that because of oversleeping, one is obese with the explanation being lack of physical activity, sleepless results in obesity too. When you are not having enough sleep, your body hormones are altered and affect the various body functions particularly the appetite which makes one eat unhealthy calorie-rich food at unearthly hours, resulting in obesity. Obesity itself has a lot of side effects like heart-related problems, diabetes, etc. and lack of sleep could make things worse.
Basic issues like being hyper, aggressive towards peers, anger management and mood swings are problems that ideally shouldn’t be faced by young minds. Lack of sleep can make the kid irritable, which encourages them to do destructive and damaging activities.
Impact on memory and academic
While you have many avenues to learn new things, sleep plays a crucial role too. Lack of sleep always makes a person distracted, inattentive and incapable of reasoning and problem-solving. Owing to this, one cannot progress in learning and for kids, this will be particularly difficult with all the above making them unable to perform well in their academic assessments. Additionally, sleep cycles amalgamate the memories that one makes in a day and if one doesn’t sleep properly, he won’t be able to remember the different learnings and know-how.
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Why Are Children Finding It Hard to Sleep?
Unlike adults, children have the most enjoyable phase – childhood to enjoy their life with no tensions and worries of the world affecting them. With this carefree life of theirs’, and so many outdoor activities that keep them busy, children can easily fall asleep but not many can do so these days.
Increased gadget time
Gone are the days when children would channelize most of their energies by engaging themselves in outdoor activities. This would give them both joy of excelling in some sport and also encourage physical exercises. However, today’s generation is devoid of this fun. This may be because of the maximum time that children spend with electronic gadgets including mobile phones, tablets and other devices either playing online games or participating in social media circles. Lack of sleep due to over usage of gadgets results in headaches and alterations in the power of the eyes leading to wearing spectacles or any other complication related to vision, lethargic behavior and no interest in the real world most time spent virtually, etc.
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Eating Junk Food and Food Rich in Sugar
Finally, eating food particularly sweets just before sleeping will result in sugar rush in the body and hamper the sleeping pattern. Sugar rush activates the glucose in the body and the child becomes hyperactive. It’s a good idea to feed children early dinner and restrict giving sweets, especially on weekdays when they have to attend school the next day.
The disturbing environment at home
Home is where harmony should be especially if young children are living around as when a child is young, that time is considered to be the most crucial one as they are the growing years and their minds are being developed. A very less percentage of children are also affected owing to the unharmonious environment at home. Anything unpleasant affects them the most and scenes like fighting parents can have a deep impact on the child’s mental health. With the image mapped several times in the child’s mind, there are chances of withdrawal symptoms in the child clubbed with a lack of sleep. Most mental health-related problems are because of lack of proper sleep and this has to be addressed right at the beginning before any irreparable damage is done.
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Tips For Parents
- 1. Parents should monitor that the child sleeps at least 10 hours daily.
- 2. A certain amount of discipline if imbibed in the child can help in solving the problem of sleeplessness in children.
- 3. Turn off electronics: Avoid gadgets/tabs/games just before bedtime.
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