The Vital Importance of Sleep for Child Development


By Jane Sandwood, Freelance Writer

A 2017 study revealed that children aged three and seven who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have problems with attention and emotional control later in life. But largely because of changes in the modern lifestyles, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get children to sleep for the recommended time every day. Here are some causes of sleep deprivation in children and how you can help your kid to get enough sleep.

Late-Evening Electronic Use

The National Sleep Foundation recommends a daily minimum of 14 hours of sleep for newborns, and 12 for infants. Toddlers are expected to sleep for a minimum of 11-14 hours daily while preschoolers need about 10-13 hours of sleep every day. The same data suggest that school-aged children should sleep for a minimum of 9-11 hours while teenagers should get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per day. However, there is a growing body of evidence that supports the theory that using electronics late in the evening is contributing to sleeping problems not only in adults but children as well. Indulging in violent video games and other intense electronic activities can induce a fight-or-flight response in children leading to poor sleep habits. Scientists also believe that exposure to blue light emitted by smartphones and other gadgets at night contributes to sleep problems. Parents can help their children to avoid spending long hours pegged on their electronics in the evenings. Gadget use can be replaced by quieter activities like reading and listening to calm music.

Sleep Disorders

Not all sleep deprivation issues are caused by electronics. Some are actually caused by treatable disease conditions. Common sleep disorders in children include insomnia, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. Snoring, pauses in breathing, sudden waking up at night, headaches in the morning, and bed-wetting may be signs of a sleep disorder. Children observed with these conditions should be taken to a GP or sleep physician.

Irregular Sleep Schedules

Children without a regular sleep schedule are more likely to face sleep deprivation problems. Although the sleep habits of individual children may differ, a child is more likely to develop irregular habits if decisions about bedtime are left to him. Parents can help their children to get into a regular sleep schedule by developing and enforcing a bedtime routine.

Giving your kid warm milk at bedtime can be used as an enticement at bedtime. This warm milk, called moon milk, is particularly effective when it is spiced with herbs. Cow milk contains the amino acid tryptophan which is converted into a series of anti-insomnia neurotransmitters in the body. The other spices in moon milk, which may include chamomile, lavender, ashwagandha, tart cherry, turmeric, and reishi also have some insomnia-fighting qualities.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to sleep deprivation in children. Treating the underlying sleep disorders and avoiding late-evening gadget use may help to reduce children’s sleep deprivation issues. Giving children moon milk has also been observed to positively impact children’s sleeping habits.