03-05-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
Approximately 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during the week. March 5-11 is National Sleep Awareness Week and Dayton Children’s wants to inform parents about the importance of sleep for kids and how to reduce night problems. Issues such as night terrors, nightmares, sleep walking, and other related sleep problems can all negatively affect a child’s daily performance.
“Sleep problems are easily ignored and are not taken as seriously as they should be,” says Samuel Dzodzomenyo, MD, medical director of the Dayton Children’s pediatric sleep center. “Not enough sleep can lead to a variety of problems for children. It can even lead to weight gain by altering the level of the hormones that regulate satiety and hunger, leading to overeating, overweight, and obesity.”
Children’s bodies are busy growing and need at least nine hours of sleep, although some children require more. A good night’s rest is also essential for the body to grow and develop.
If a child receives less sleep than what is recommended, they may experience:
- Accidents and injuries
- Behavioral problems
- Mood swings
- Memory, concentration, and learning problems
- Slower reaction problems
Parents cannot always easily recognize sleep problems in a child; however, there are specific signs to look for. It is important to contact a local pediatrician if your child exhibits any of the following signs of a sleep problem:
- Breathing pauses during sleep
- Problems sleeping through the night
- Difficulty staying up all day
- Decrease in daytime performance
- Unusual event during sleep (sleep talking, sleep terrors, sleep walking)
Sleep terrors, sleepwalking, and sleep talking constitute a rare group of disorders called, “parasomnias.” It is estimated that one percent to six percent of children in the United States experience a sleep terror at some point in their childhood. Sleep terrors are most common between the ages of 4 and 12 and sleepwalking is most common between the ages of 6 and 12. Both sleep terrors and sleep walking run in families and affect boys more than girls.
A majority of sleep problems are related to poor sleeping habits or anxiety about going to bed. Children often get distracted and refrain from going to sleep or do not want to leave their caregivers when trying to fall asleep. Many children who experience this are diagnosed with a developmental landmark called, “separation anxiety.” Parents need to take an active role in helping their children receive a good night’s sleep. Sleep keeps kids healthy and it is important to recognize when your child is having a problem sleeping and how to prevent it. The experts in the Dayton Children’s sleep clinic offer the following seven tips to prevent sleeping problems.
Seven tips to prevent sleeping problems:
1. Develop a consistent bedtime and sleep routine
2. Feeding and rocking your infant to sleep
3. Avoid giving your child food or drink that contains caffeine less than six hours before bedtime
4. Keep the room temperature comfortable
5. Make sure the noise level in the house is low
6. Turning off anything distracting in your child’s room while they are trying to fall asleep (television, radio, iPod)
7. Avoid getting into bed with your child when they are trying to fall asleep.
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