October 24, 2020

The sleeping child

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The average person associates sleep problems with things like stress and anxiety, such that they do not immediately believe some groups can have trouble sleeping. However, it isn’t merely the pressures of work, society, and relationships that can take a toll on a person’s ability to get good sleep quality and quantity. Other things can play a role, such as mood or behavioural problems, food intake in the immediate hours preceding sleep, and a whole milieu of little things. Recent studies show that children are just as likely to have problems getting to sleep as adults are, though the reasons are not quite the same. What’s worse is that this lack of sleep may bring about a problem more serious than being sleepy in class: obesity.

Recent studies have shown that children below the age of six can experience difficulty in getting to sleep and staying asleep. The study was prompted by some statistics that show children are getting less sleep, with the aim of finding out why this was happening. The results showed that children who watched certain types of TV shows, particularly police dramas and news broadcasts, had difficulty getting to sleep at night. The study found that the longer the child spent watching shows of that nature, along with other violent or disturbing programmes, the longer it took for them to get to sleep. In some cases, the data was also correlated with the child experiencing breaks in sleep. The more they watched, the more frequently they woke up in the middle of the night.

Background TV exposure also seemed to play a role. Sleep problems can also appear if the child is not directly watching TV. The types of programmes remained the same, but the nature of exposure was changed. Background TV exposure, such as hearing bits and pieces of a broadcast but not being in front of the TV itself, caused the same sleep problems that directly watching programmes did. However, the research also revealed that the risks were lower than with direct viewing. Not by much, but they were noticeably lower. However, a lack of sleep caused by this can cause a child to eventually become overweight and obese as part of the side effects, according to another study.

The study recorded the Body Mass Index (BMI) and the sleep patterns of children in both the third and sixth grade. The results were that, as the children obtained less sleep for a variety of reasons, their BMI also went up, with some skirting the risk of obesity as early as the fifth grade. Factors such as genetics, environment, medical history, and sex, race, and education were eliminated to ensure that the results were as accurate as possible. The results showed that BMI did experience an increase as the hours of sleep decreased, though there could have been some variables that were not taken into account while the study was being planned. These factors include things such as personality and financial status, along with the inevitable lack of physical activity due to the lack of sleep.

Children need at least nine hours of sleep per night. A lack of sleep may cause:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Behaviour problems
  • Mood problems
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Performance problems
  • Slower reaction times

Signs of Sleep Problems in Children:

  • Talk to your pediatrician if your child exhibits any of the following signs of a sleep problem:
  • SnoringBreathing pauses during sleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Unexplained decrease in daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep

Tips for Helping Your Child’s Sleep Problem:

  • Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it. Similarly, the waking time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than one to one and a half hours.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.
  • Do not give children any food or drinks with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.
  • Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
  • Avoid giving children large meals close to bedtime.
  • Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • There should be no television, radio, or music playing while the child is going to sleep.

Children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in the parent’s arms, or in another room). Parents should avoid getting into bed with a child in order to get them to sleep. If this is difficult, you should consult your pediatrician.

 

 

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