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Sleep concerns in children: What you need to know

Having good sleep habits or what is called sleep hygiene is very important. Here are the common sleep problems which are seen in children with neurological problems.

July 25, 2022 1:14:13 pm
Sleep concerns in children

Why is  sleep so important for children ? 

Sleep is important for everyone, especially for children, for their physical and mental health. Sleep is needed for consolidation of memory and motor skill development. Lack of sleep affects alertness, understanding, memory, learning and attention. Children become drowsy or even hyperactive in the daytime due to poor sleep. They have behavioral problems, decrease in attention and learning. They can also have risks like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure in later life. 

Why is there a need to talk about sleep today ?

′Early to bed, early to rise′ is  a saying all of us have learnt in school. But, unfortunately with the  changes in our lifestyle and use of mobile phones and gadgets ′Sleep late, wake up late′ is becoming  a phenomenon. This was earlier seen mainly in the teens, but now is  seen more commonly in younger children also and in all age groups.  When there is a need to get early, it leads to lack of adequate sleep and stress. 

Do sleep requirements vary with different ages in children ? 

Babies who are just born sleep for around 15- 16 hours a day. They sleep equally both during day and night. This shifts to night time sleep by around the later half of the first year of life. The sleep duration also decreases during childhood to about 9-10 hours by about 14 – 18 years. 

How is sleep regulated in humans ?

Sleep is a complex process, influenced by  the different biological processes of the body. It is also affected by  environmental and socio-cultural influences. The master circadian clock of the human body is mainly regulated by melatonin , a hormone secreted from the hypothalamus of the brain. 

What are the common causes of sleep problems seen in children

Going to bed late and refusing to sleep are some of the commonly seen problems. Some medical  problems causing disturbed sleep are  due to enlarged tonsils, adenoids. Bad dreams, nightmares, sleep walking and talking and some night time seizures also are seen. 

What are the effects of poor sleep on children with neurological problems?

Sleep problems are seen more commonly in children with neurological problems. Lack of proper sleep can also increase the chances of getting seizures or fits  in children with epilepsy. 

Are there ways to help children get proper sleep ? 

Having good sleep habits or what is called sleep hygiene is very important. Keep a regular bedtime for the child and wake the child up at a regular time everyday in the morning. The bedtime and wake up time should approximately be the same and not differ by more than an hour both on school and non school days. Avoid having late naps in the afternoon. Keep the room dark and quiet. Avoid use of computers, cell phones and television and heavy foods and  sugary or caffeinated drinks before bed time. Practicing reading a story book or listening to soft music helps. Practice regular exercise in the daytime but not just before bedtime. If the child gets up at night, reassure and cuddle them but let them go back to sleep on their own. If there are worries or stress that prevent the child from getting good sleep then they need to be addressed.

Dr. Padma Balaji, MBBS, MD (Pediatrics), Post Doctoral Fellowship Pediatric Neurology, Sr.Consultant – Pediatric Neurology, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Guindy, Chennai -600015.

Dr. Padma Balaji

MBBS, MD ( Pediatrics ), Post Doctoral Fellowship Pediatric Neurology

Sr.Consultant – Pediatric Neurology

Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Guindy, Chennai -600015.

24×7 Pediatric Emergency  Contact No: 044- 4860 0000

For Appointments : 1800- 2122

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First published on: 25-07-2022 at 01:14:13 pm
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