Is your child struggling with anxiety, stress, and frequent tantrums? It could be that they need to get more sleep.
Sleep is an essential bodily function that allows the mind and body to recharge. Not having enough of it can affect a child’s ability to concentrate, process information, and think clearly(1).
Sleep quality plays an essential role in a child’s physical and mental health. Children who often don’t get enough sleep eventually experience a host of other problems(2).
Stress and Sleep Deprivation
Many brain imaging studies show that sleep health, behavior problems, and stress are correlated among older children (3).
Kids don’t recover from a sleep deficit quickly. If they don’t get enough sleep, they may have difficulty managing their anxiety, stress, and behaviors over time (3).
There’s emerging evidence that poor sleep health occurs as early as one year of age among kids living with socioeconomic adversity (3).
According to the study, these children often experience insufficient sleep duration that places them at risk of lifelong metabolic, cardiovascular, and mental health disorders (3).
Therefore, promoting sleep health to children may help buffer their stress response. Researchers also suggest that healthy sleep may improve health and encourage life-long resilience (3).
Try to establish good lifestyle habits as early as possible, especially if you notice your child is having mood problems.
Starting with strategies to help your kid get better sleep quality may help you manage other serious problems more effectively.
Set Limits With Electronics
Using any electronic device at bedtime reduces sleep quantity and quality while increasing inattention and weight (3).
For this reason, make sure your kid doesn’t use gadgets a few hours before bedtime--turn screens off at least 30 minutes before bed. If you’re afraid that your child might sneak around, consider taking away all devices at night.
Limit Sugar and Caffeine
Research suggests that although children’s caffeine consumption is lower than adults’, it may still affect their sleep and behavior (4).
Caffeine is usually found in sodas, chocolates, tea, and coffee. A lot of these products are sold to young children and adolescents using enticing branding and slogans(4). Drinking sugary and caffeinated beverages may result in kids having sleep problems more often (4). For children to sleep better, limit their consumption of chocolates and other sugary food and drinks during the day.
Follow the Same Bedtime, Even on Weekends
Researchers suggest that having a regular bedtime maintains the body’s biological clock. Therefore, keeping the same sleep schedule will make it easier for your child to wake up and fall asleep naturally.
Spend Quality Time Together
If your child is acting up, they might be craving more attention from you. If you work during the day, evenings are when you’re most likely available. Perhaps your child may want a few moments of your time, so they choose to stay up later.
Try spending more time with your kid. Ask them about their school, friends, interests, and how they may want to spend their weekend with you. You might also read to your child as they wind down for the night.
If it’s hard to spend time during the week, consider scheduling family bonding every weekend to catch up with them.
Poor sleep habits may worsen mood problems. Speak with your trusted pediatrician so that they can take a closer look at what might be getting in the way.
- Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
- Sleep and The Developing Brain
- Sleep, Biological Stress, and Health among Toddlers Living in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Homes: A research protocol
- The Relationship Between Caffeine, Sleep, and Behavior in Children
Written by ZBC Volunteer Ruth Riley.
Ruth is an educator and writer. She teaches linguistics to college students and also conducts studies about CBD.
Photo by Keren Fedida at Unsplash