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Recognize the Signs of Sleep Issues in Children

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KIDS NEED A LOT of sleep. According to American Family Physician, children between the ages of 5 and 14 need a minimum of 9 hours of sleep each night, and 13 hours may even be better. Unlike adults who are sleep-deprived, too little sleep often manifests as hyperactivity in children. So if your second-grader regularly bounces around the house like Tigger, exhibiting a manic amount of energy that’s accompanied by impulsiveness and a shorter-than-usual attention span, it may be a sleep disorder that’s to blame.

Sleep issues in children are more common than you might think. As many as 30 percent of kids may suffer from some type of sleep disorder at some point during childhood, says the Alaska Sleep Clinic. If you think your child may fit this demographic, there are signs you can look for:

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)

You may have thought your child was only feeling sluggish due to the weather, but Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is actually an indicator of a more serious problem. If your child has it, you’ll likely notice it first thing in the morning when it’s nearly impossible to get them out of bed. Once up and around, however, the sleepiness persists. Your child may nap at odd times, exhibit low energy or just be all-around tired for the majority of the day.

Bed-wetting

Bed-wetting typically isn’t that big of a deal unless your child is older, and it happens on a regular basis. This could be a sign of anxiety, stress or a physical ailment. It could also be a result of your child being too tired to wake up when he or she feels the need to go. In this instance, a sleep disorder, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, could be occurring that interrupts your child’s sleep to the point of leaving them exhausted. Talk with your pediatrician if you’re worried about bed-wetting.

Nightmares or night terrors

Nightmares are never fun, especially for someone who may be afraid of the dark already. Both nightmares and night terrors can interrupt your child’s sleep to the point where they’re still tired the next morning, even after going to sleep at the right time.

Nightmares can wake your child up, while night terrors typically happen while the child is still asleep. Both can be chilling for parents, however, when kids shoot straight up in bed and begin screaming, crying or both. Many kids outgrow night terrors with age as their central nervous systems mature. Until that happens, however, these terrors can be a huge detriment to how kids feel next morning.

Other signs of sleep issues in children may include sleepwalking, snoring or trouble falling asleep at night.

What you can do

Establishing a regular routine at bedtime is often beneficial for kids who can’t seem to fall asleep at night. Having quiet time before bed and turning off electronic devices such as televisions and handheld video games at least an hour before bed is a good idea too. Another sound option might be to replace your child’s mattress with one that’s a better fit.

Sleep issues in children can make life stressful for everyone in the home. It’s better to address them sooner than later — before your child’s health and school performance begin to suffer.

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