Sleep deprivation in children is linked to increased levels of brain arousal, higher levels of cortisol, and a precursor to medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and allergies.
Insufficient sleeping hours also makes them less productive during the day and increases the likelihood they may develop social and behavioral disorders later in life.
Whereas the average sleeping hours for adults is 7 – 8, up to 16 hours is recommended for toddlers and 11 hours for 12-year-olds. Teenagers can get by with anything between 8 and 9 hours.
Of course, more hours is always better.
It is only during deep, sound, and long sleep that children undergo a whole set of biological mechanisms as the body grows. When they are TRULY asleep (during the night) they experience body growth, repair, reset, and detoxification.
Research shows that good sleep helps kids fight germs and neutralize heart-related ailments as well.
The following 5 hacks should help you to fight sleep deprivation in children:
1. Take them outdoors
Often times kids are locked indoors and remain sedentary most of the day for one reason or another. Besides binging on TVs and electronic devices, they may take naps during the day. By night-time, they are wide awake and hardly have the urge to sleep.
Even when they make up their mind to sleep, children may struggle to REALLY sleep and will wake up frequently through the night.
One ploy to get them started with good sleep involves exposure to daylight playtime and other forms of physical activity.
Plenty of playtimes will tire them down and prepare their bodies for a good night’s sleep.
In a research conducted by Yvonne Harrison at Liverpool John Moores University,
Babies who slept well at night were exposed to significantly more light in the early afternoon period.
Beware though not to overdo this simply because you want to get your kids tired. They should stick to what their bodies can handle. Excesses in physical activity may lead to body tears and extreme fatigue.
2. Create an ideal sleeping environment
The timing, temperature, noise, comfort, EMF, and lighting in the bedroom, all play different roles in ensuring that children sleep well and long or not.
If children spend the better part of the day playing, they should shower and eat nutritious food before going to bed. Equally important, they should also sleep and wake up at set hours in the evening and morning.
Secondly, children should have the privilege of sleeping in the same bedroom every day. A similar environment is good for the brain and peace of mind.
It is comforting for children to wake up knowing where they are, and not having to get used to new sleeping environments every other night.
Also ensure that the bedroom where children sleep is quiet, with optimal temperature, and dark enough. Turn off light from the electric bulb and computing devices such as the cell phone, laptops, gaming consoles, and the TV screen.
According to NCBI,
The widespread use of portable electronic devices and the normalization of screen media devices in the bedroom is accompanied by a high prevalence of insufficient sleep, affecting a majority of adolescents, and 30% of toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children.
For unforeseen reasons, sing for your child his popular lullabies or tell sweat stories to get them to sleep.
3. Serve REAL meals
Make it a point that children are served nutritious meals before bedtime.
For starters, they should eat early before they can go to bed: an hour or so before bedtime is good enough, and this must be done consistently. Or else, you risk dealing with sleepy kids who may totally fail to eat.
Whereas temptations are rife to try out a variety of snacks just before bedtime, always insist on real food to ensure children sleep hard and for long hours. The right kind of food will ensure that kids don’t wake up frequently.
The foods children eat must have plenty of protein and nutrients instead of simple carbs and sugars. Meals that are inclusive of veggies, whole grains, milk, fruits, eggs, beans, should be served instead of processed junk such as candy, fruit snacks, fries, and cola.
According to Nancy Z. Farrell, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
While he snoozes, his bones are growing and his brain is processing all that he learned during the day … Nutritious foods help foster good sleep patterns.
4. No screen-time before & during sleep
The use and storage of electronic devices in the bedroom are known to cause sleep deprivation in children. Smartphone and laptop screens in particular emit the blue light which interferes with the sleep/wake cycle and biological clock.
The blue light from the screens can hinder the pineal gland from releasing the melatonin hormone which is crucial in fostering the right balance of the sleep-wake cycle.
Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.SleepFoundation
The first step in fighting tech addiction in the bedroom is to make it completely tech-free. The temptation to use smartphones and game consoles will always be there if these devices find their way inside the bedroom.
You may also want to cut down on pre-bedtime entertainment such as TV and movie watching. Beware of scary movies and bad TV shows.
5. Eliminate EMF in the bedroom
When your child is fast asleep, ensure this journey is not hindered by any distraction whatsoever. While it is easy to assume all is fine in the bedroom, it is only after you start digging around that you will discover the numerous electronic devices littered around.
The presence of invincible electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the bedroom is known to interfere with the sleep/wake and ultimately leads to sleep deprivation in children and adults.
The pineal gland is likely to sense EMFs as light but, as a consequence, may decrease the melatonin production.
In addition, EMF leads to tiredness and disruption of the immune system. Other side effects are sleep disorders and multiple health hazards such as cancer.
You may want to control the levels of EMF in the bedroom by doing the following:
- keep Wi-Fi devices out of the bedroom. Swatch them off if nearby
- switch off the cell phones, turn Airplane Mode on, and keep them a safe distance from children
- unplug electronics from power mains next to the bed
- avoid sleeping in a bedroom close to a cellular tower
- minimize the use of fluorescent lighting in the bedroom to minimize dirty electricity
- keep other electronic devices outside the bedroom.
Now you know.