Hints To Help Kids Get Enough Sleep
Setting healthy sleep habits when your child is young is key for their wellbeing. Here, Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D, clinical psychologist, sleep specialist and author of The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need, shares her insight on helping kids get a good night’s rest.
Sleep Problems in Children
“There are many sleep problems that are typical in children,” Dr. Silberman said, such as sleep talking or walking; confusional arousal (child is confused and disoriented); and sleep terrors (characterized by a blood-curdling scream and terrifying images).
The most important actions you can take are to “keep the bedroom very safe and free of sharp or harmful objects [and to] lock the windows and doors to the outside.” Also helpful is playing soft music or putting in a night-light, because this makes your child more aware of his or her surroundings. Sleep deprivation increases the risk for these problems, so make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night. This helps to decrease or prevent such problems.
To help with sleep terrors, in addition to ensuring your child isn’t sleep-deprived, “calmly bring them into their room.”
Signs Your Child Is Sleep-Deprived
Parents have to be very conscious of the cues that kids are giving them,” Silberman said, since they’re unable to verbalize that they’re sleepy.
Interestingly, the signs that kids are sleep-deprived are completely different from adults. Adults get sleepy, but kids “tend to be more hyper, inattentive, irritated and annoyed.” In fact, Silberman said that a lot has been written about sleep deprivation being mistaken for ADHD.
Also, pay attention to changes in your child. Are your kids participating in school and other activities as usual? Are they dragging?
If your child is showing these symptoms, consider what’s possibly causing it. For instance, “Does it happen on the weekend when they stay up late with you watching a movie?” Silberman said. Also, if these symptoms occur in combination with sleep apnea, see a specialist. The same goes for snoring, since kids shouldn’t snore.