Sleep Deprivation & Children
You have heard of adults suffering from sleep deprivation, but children suffer from sleep deprivation too. While the effects of sleep deprivation are detrimental for both adults and children it is more so for children as they are still growing and developing. Sleep deprivation compromises emotional and physical health; it also affects attention span, irritability and increases risk-taking behavior.
Children need more sleep than the recommended 7-9 hours stipulated for adults. If a child falls asleep within half an hour of going to bed, wakes up on time without much of a struggle and does not take to daytime napping, he/she can be said to have rested well. Sleep deprivation can lead to a decline in the overall cognitive process. The inability to concentrate, poor decision making and impaired memory, as a result of sleep deprivation can combine to bring down a child’s academic performance. Lack of sleep can hamper a child’s performance in sports too.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
According the National Sleep Foundation, needed sleep depends on age. The recommendations are as follows:
- Newborns (0-3 months) – 14 – 17 hours
- Infants (4-12 months) – 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years) – 11-14 hours
- School-aged (6-13 years) – 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years) – 8-10 hours
- Young Adults (18-25 years) – 7-9 hours
Sleep Deprivation Signs
If you suspect your child is suffering from sleep deprivation, here are some signs to look out for which may help you determine whether you are right in your suspicion. A sleep-deprived child may display the following signs:
- Under-eye dark circles
- Absenteeism from school
- Inability to focus attention
- Mood Swings
- Aggressive Behavior
- Low impulse control
Cause and Effect
Sleep deprivation in children can be a result of medical problems that disrupt sleep. Treatable medical conditions that lead to childhood sleep deprivation are restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea. Children suffering from chronic diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux, rheumatoid arthritis, and other psychiatric/neurological conditions are also predisposed to sleep deprivation.
Continued sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalances. It can also contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Lack of sleep makes children less immune to diseases their bodies do not get ample time to relax and rejuvenate itself. Inadequate sleep can make children more inclined towards binge-eating and other such unhealthy habits.
Sleep deprivation in children is a common complaint. Several physical and emotional factors can affect a child’s sleep. It is important for a growing child to get an adequate amount of sleep as lack of it may affect their mental and physiological development. Speak to your pediatrician or primary care doctor if you believe your child is not getting adequate sleep. The doctor will check for any underlying medical conditions and, if necessary, refer you to a sleep specialist who can help.
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need – https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/support/how-much-sleep-do-babies-and-kids-need
- Sleep Tips for Kids – https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-disorders-sleep-tips-kids
- What to Do if You Can’t Sleep – https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/cant-sleep.html
Need more help?
The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services are available to help individuals and families cope with sleep disorders and related mental health issues. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824.