4 Sleeping Problems Affecting Kids and How To Treat Them

Adults aren’t the only people who suffer from stress, anxiety and not enough rest.  In many cases, all of these things could be linked, and it is something that parents should certainly look out for when it comes to monitoring their child’s sleeping patterns. There are plenty of things that can affect a kid’s quality of sleep, and these issues can have consequences. Lack of sleep is something that should be taken seriously, especially since it can lead to decreased concentration at school, a weakened immune system, an increased risk of obesity and weight-gain, moodiness, and much more.

Take a good look at your child’s sleeping patterns. Do they have any quirks or habits like snoring or sleep walking? Are they tired every morning and often fatigued during the day? Here are some of the biggest sleep issues that affect children of different ages, as well as what you can do to help rectify the problem.

Stress and Anxiety
Children are still learning, growing and becoming individuals, and there are plenty of hardships that come along with that. A child’s worries can range from present factors, like school stress, making friends or bullying, to real world what-ifs like the possibility of a fire or a burglar trying to break into your home.

Signs of stress and anxiety in children often involve staying awake despite their tiredness as well as a general restlessness when they do manage to get some sleep. Kids who worry or feel afraid may also ask for extra one-on-one time before bed or even ask to sleep with you before sleeping or during the night.

Working through stress is important, and as a parent it’s vital that you do not belittle their worries. Instead, try to help them channel their anxieties and worries in other ways. Encourage them to keep a journal. Writing can help kids empty their heads before bed, plus it helps them learn to work through their emotions and feelings. Also consider reading a book before bed, whether you read together or they read on their own, to help get their mind off things before drifting off to sleep.

Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects a person’s intake of oxygen while they sleep. In children, sleep apnea is often caused by oversized tonsils, adenoids, or even chronic sinus infections that affect how well they breathe while they sleep. Sleep apnea often causes loud or excessive snoring, but it can also cause restless sleep and frequent waking in the middle of the night.

The only way to accurately diagnose sleep apnea is to visit a lab, but it’s important that parents pay attention to sleeping patterns in order to diagnose the issue. Treatment aims to help improve breathing and may involve tonsil removal, sinus medication, or other options.

Sedentary Screen Time
Just as with adults, kids who don’t move around much or spend too much time in front of a screen may suffer from a lack of fulfilling sleep as a result. Not getting enough exercise has many other side effects as most people are aware, but it can also affect how well you sleep. Plus, lack of sleep can contribute just as much to weight gain and risk for obesity as remaining relatively sedentary does. But no matter how active or inactive your day was, it’s important that children refrain from looking at any bright screens before bed – and the same goes for adults. Studies have shown that the stimulation inspired by watching TV, looking at your phone or playing on your tablet can interfere with quality of sleep. So many experts suggest planning at least an hour’s worth of screen-free time before bed. Make getting ready for bed a habit – such as turn off all devices, brush teeth and change into pajamas, and plan a screen-free activity, whether it is reading or simple conversation to help you, and your children, power down and get ready for a good night’s rest.

According to Karen Ballaban-Gil, MD, a pediatric neurologist at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in NYC says that 20-40% of school-age kids sleepwalk on occasion. This is usually caused by an incomplete sleep-stage transition, causing the brain to remain asleep while the body is capable of getting up and moving around. Sleepwalking can be dangerous, especially since kids are unaware of their actions and parents may not be around to monitor them.

When it comes to spotting sleepwalking, parents can usually see signs if they go to sleep later than their children normally do since sleepwalking often occurs during the first few hours of sleep. Sleepwalking also tends to run in families, so if you, your spouse, or anyone else in the family has been known to sleepwalk in the past, it is definitely something you should watch out for in your kids.
For the most part, kids will outgrow this tendency – but it is absolutely imperative that parents make sure they are aware of the situation and that they create safe spaces for their children in the event that they sleepwalk. Make sure their rooms are clean and that the floor is clear of any hazards. Put bars on windows, child-proof areas like the bathroom or kitchen, and make sure that you keep an eye on them or an ear out for them when you can. If you catch your child sleepwalking, gently guide them back to bed as much as you can. If it becomes a common occurrence, be sure to discuss it with your child’s pediatrician to look out for any underlying causes and other solutions.

Final Thoughts: Children need sleep, just like the rest of us. Without a good night’s rest, kids can suffer from a plethora of problems physically, mentally, at school, and in other aspects of their lives. Children ages 5-12 should generally get around 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers, on the other hand, generally need 8-10, but it is also important to pay attention to your child’s sleeping habits, needs and other behaviors. Sometimes, kids (and adults) may rest better when they sleep at certain times or for a specific number of hours. No matter what, it is important that kids get the recommended amount of sleep for the sake of their health and their overall well being.

Navigating Childhood Stress and Anxiety

Childhood Stress and Anxieties

Everyone has worries and fears, hopes and aspirations, and as children get older they develop in new and different ways. However most adults view a child’s life as easy compared to the lives they know in their own adult lives, but a child’s worries and fears should never be taken lightly. Some fears are irrational, as far as adults are concerned, but when it comes to issues like monsters under the bed or the ominous feeling that comes with the night, it helps for parents to be supportive as well as informative, but in a delicate and understanding manner. There are also more troublesome anxieties that plague children that are serious no matter what the context, and it is absolutely vital that parents are aware of the effects these things can have on their children in the present and what that could mean for their future as well.

Bullying is one of the major, as well as the most common issue that children face on a fairly regular basis. Whether your child is being bullied, has witnessed bullying or perhaps they even are the bully, it is important for parents to look out for the signs that something may be wrong at school or on the playground. Communication is key, and it is important that you open a line of dialogue with your child so that they are not afraid to come to you with issues or problems that they may be dealing with on a regular basis – which can be especially tricky when it comes to bullying as many kids may feel embarrassed or hurt by the events that take place outside the home.

If your child is bullied or is affected by bullying in any way, encouraging friendships and positive activities can work wonders. Having a support system and having a passion or favorite activity can be integral to building a strong sense of self-confidence. It can also be beneficial in a number of other ways, but these are great ways to make sure that your child feels safe, supported and strong.

Divorce or Marital Problems
As a parent, if you are in the midst of getting a divorce, are separated from your spouse or are having any other kind of marital issues, you may feel self involved and swept up in a way that affects you personally. But even if it feels as though this is an issue between you and your partner or ex-partner, children notice more things than many parents realize or are willing to admit. Verbal arguments or stressors put on your relationship can be visible and audible to your child, and it can certainly affect them and how they view you, themselves, and the world at large. Kids look to their parents as an example, so you may unknowingly be leaving a bad impression.

It is also important that parents understand not to hide things from their child as if it were a secret, but to explain and help them understand in a manner that makes sense to them. Be mindful of any arguments you get into and be aware of the things that you say. Getting a divorce or going through marriage troubles can be incredibly trying, but it is vital that you are aware of how this also affects your children as well.

Guns and Violence
With guns being in the news a lot lately, kids are likely to hear the stories and are not wrong for being worried about it. Many adults are worried too, and regardless of your stance on guns it can be scary to hear about all of the shootings and other gun related violence taking the media by storm. It helps to engage kids on the subject and teach them valuable life lessons that can keep them safe, just as it is smart to discuss a fire escape plan for your home. Educate yourself about emergency situations, where the safest places to go are and what sort of behavior you should assume. Make sure that you discuss these sorts of things with your entire family so that they have some idea about where to go in the event of an emergency, whether you are together or if you find yourselves apart. Make sure that children know who to contact or who to call, that they try to remain calm, and that they understand your family plan of action. See if you can attend any community events or seminars that cover situations like these where you can learn more and even meet police officers, fire fighters, volunteers and so on. Encourage your kids to ask them questions it may help them feel better and safe in the long run.

There are many other things that can worry children such as natural disasters, domestic abuse to name a few, but the most important thing to do as a parent is to make sure that you are open, honest, and understanding so that your child knows they can come to you for help with anything.

Follow us on our blog for parenting resources and reading tips and share with others too!