Our children need a good night’s sleep in order to do well in school. Doctors says that from the ages 7 to 12, kids will need about 10 to 11 hours to stay alert and function better in school. Without a good night’s sleep they will become cranky, hyperactive, and have a hard time concentrating. However, some health conditions can prevent your child from getting quality sleep. Here’s what to watch out for.
Does your child snore?
Snoring may be the result simply of nasal congestion, but loud snoring accompanied by difficulty breathing may be a sign of apnea. In this case, there are pauses in breathing and mini-awakenings throughout the night. Also look at your child’s chest for signs of ‘heaving.’ It may help to keep her head propped up or give sinus medication, but do report the problem to your doctor and have her checked in a sleep lab.
Does he have insomnia?
Kids who suffer insomnia complain of difficulty falling asleep, remaining asleep or waking up too early. Insomnia is sometimes caused by anxiety. That request for another glass of water and another bed time story may actually signal that something is wrong. To help, provide sleep-inducing snacks. A glass of milk, oatmeal and bananas, peanut butter with crackers just an hour before bed will spark a release of seratonin, the body’s built-in sleep activator.
Does he sleepwalk?
Sleepwalking occurs when there is an incomplete sleep-stage transition that causes the body to move around even when the brain is already asleep. It tends to happen during the first two hours of sleep. Try moving your child’s bedtime earlier, as sleepwalking is sometimes caused by lack of sleep. Don’t worry, a child usually outgrows sleepwalking. In the meantime, keep her safe by ensuring that the windows are locked and the floor is clear of toys.
Does he have night terrors and nightmares?
Signs are inconsolable crying, flailing and screaming that lasts for an hour or more. They’re not having a bad dream, since they’re totally unaware of their behavior. Avoid triggers like overtiredness, radical schedule changes, fever (reduce it before bedtime), stress, and certain meds (such as antihistamines). Your child will seem awake but she is not, so riding it out will be the only thing to do. Increasing sleep time helps keep night terrors at bay.
Nightmares are frightening dreams that occur during REM sleep and often wake your child up. These are more common between the ages of 3 and 8, the ages when their imaginations are very active. Nightmares can result from a real-life scary event, a change in a routine when the child is going through a difficult time.