NORFOLK -- Every parent has had to deal with a child who has been cranky due to lack of sleep.
Sleep is very important to a child’s well-being.
Oddly, most of our understanding of sleep comes not from knowing what happens when we sleep but from noticing what happens when we don’t.
What does sleep do for us?
• Sleep is a powerful restorative process. It helps us to function better physically, emotionally, and metabolically.
• Sleep struggles rarely end with a growing child’s move from crib to bed. It simply changes form. Instead of cries, its pleas or refusals, nightmares and request for water. Some children may even have trouble sleeping due to respiratory issues.
• Reduced sleep leads to reduced reduced capacity to do well in school. Children, like adults running low on sleep are less able to concentrate and more easily distracted.
CHKD Pediatric Pulmonologist Dr. Jennifer Wiebke explains the role of a pulmonologist in diagnosing sleep disorders.
• We evaluate and manage sleep related breathing disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. We also see patients who have other reasons for poor sleep that could be due to medical reasons or learned behaviors.
• If your child is having serious trouble falling or staying asleep it’s always good to consult your pediatrician. Your child could be suffering from Sleep apnea a medical condition in which a child has repeated brief pauses in breathing during sleep. This could be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids or even obesity.
What can parents do to help facilitate good sleep practices?
• Consistency is the key. The biggest obstacle to getting kids to sleep is often parental inconsistency. Establish a routine and stick to it. Going to bed at the same time every night helps the body to expect sleep. Younger children can be helped by a security item such as a blanket or stuffed animal.
• Say “goodnight” to electronics. Make your child’s bedroom a tech free zone at least an hour or more before bed time.
• Make the bedroom a good place for sleeping. The room should be dark, not too distracting, cool and comfortable.
• If you have concerns about your child’s sleep, talk to your doctor.
• A good night's sleep is critical to a child's health, happiness and success in school. When problems interrupt normal sleep patterns, it is important to identify the underlying causes.
CHKD's Center for Pediatric Sleep Medicine can provide the diagnostic and treatment services to help children and teens get the sleep they need.