How sleep disorders are affecting your children?

How sleep disorders are affecting your children?

Based on NHS data analysed by BBC Panorama, hospital attendances in England for children under 14 with sleep disorders have tripled in 10 years. This is clearly a huge issue considering lack of sleep can lead to several other symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, depression etc.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is not obtaining sufficient sleep. Those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation; they will experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss. Sleep-deprived affects both the brain and cognitive function.

What are the common causes of Sleep Deprivation in Children?

  • Blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets is known to reduce the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
  • Households where both parents work can be busier in the evenings, pushing bedtimes later
  • Fizzy drinks high in sugar and caffeine have also made it harder for children to switch off at night.

How is Sleep Deprivation affecting Children?

Ten times more prescriptions of common sleep medication melatonin have also been written for children and adults under 55 over the same period.

Poor sleep in children has been linked to a greater risk of obesity, lower immunity, and mental health issues.

It is also linked to lack of emotional control and poor school performance.

How to deal with Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep Deprivation can be combatted with good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a selection of good practices and habits that are required to have good quality sleep quality.

  • Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes. Napping does not make up for inadequate night-time sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. Anything more may affect the amount you get at night and can disrupt your sleeping pattern.
  • Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime. Tea, Coffee and caffeinated drinks make you more alert and make it troublesome to fall asleep.
  • Exercising to promote good quality sleep.  As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve night-time sleep quality.  For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. However, the effect of intense night-time exercise on sleep differs from person to person, so find out what works best for you.
  • Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep.   Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep.
  • Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light.  This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine.  A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
  • Making sure that the sleep environment is pleasant.  Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.

 

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39140836

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-hygiene

Images used:

https://www.northshore.org/globalassets/sleep-center/pediatric-sleep.jpg

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