Well-rested children are easy to recognize. They are bright-eyed, happy, energetic, kind, and inquisitive. Children and teens who get enough sleep are friendly with their peers, are motivated to do well in school, have healthy appetites, and readily engage in age-appropriate activities. They enjoy school and do well in their studies because they are able to focus and retain new information.
But, how do you look and see if you’re child is not getting enough sleep? It’s not quite as obvious to realize the signs of not getting enough sleep.
The Difference Between Tired and Sleep Deprived
This is an important distinction to make right away. Everyone gets tired. Some days you are more tired than others, and the same thing happens for kids. Maybe they had to wake up earlier than normal to finish homework before school. Maybe they stayed up a little too late last night because they had an away basketball game out of town. They could have had an important math test earlier that leaves them tired the rest of the evening. These are all normal. In fact, even if you do get a full eight hours of sleep, you’ll eventually feel tired. Someone is said to be “sleep deprived” when the issue is chronic and begins to have physical and mental effects.
Physical Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Kids
Warning signs of sleep deprivation in kids go beyond just yawning and eye rubbing. These are normal for being tired, and all of us yawn every day. Some signs of sleep deprivation in children include but are not limited to being slow to wake up in the morning, clumsiness, frequent colds and infections, and falling asleep randomly and often- like every time they get in the car. This “crashing” prior to bedtime means they aren’t sleeping well enough or long enough (or both!) at night. A lack of coordination and being prone to accidents mean sleep deprived kids often have more bumps and bruises than others.
Mental and Emotional Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Kids
The effects of sleep deprivation on students can be harrowing. There is quite a bit of research showing a link between behavior and attention problems in children to poor sleep- both the quantity and quality. Because being sleep deprived affects their ability to learn, the consequences of sleep deprivation last a lifetime. The memory problems associated with sleep deprivation means they don’t learn the same information as other kids their age. Inadequate sleep contributes to attention problems, bullying and aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, mood swings, and anxiety.
If your child is showing signs of anxiety, being very hyper, acting aggressively, or changing moods very quickly, it is important that you realize these are signs of serious sleep deprivation.
What You can do to Help
Teens need at least 8 hours of sleep and younger kids need more like 10 or 14 hours. Getting less than this on a regular basis will eventually lead to health consequences that effects their entire life. Now that we can plainly see what happens if kids don’t get enough sleep, it’s obvious that you cannot let this problem persist for the child or teenager in your life.
For one, make sure they have a healthy, relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off all screens and avoid physical activity within a few hours of when they need to fall asleep. Read them a story or have them spend time reading on their own if they’re old enough. A bath and some time listening to music works well for many kids and teens. A few minutes spent in yoga, meditation, prayer, or journaling often helps too.
You’ll also want to make sure that when they do go to bed, they’re climbing onto a high-quality mattress that they find comfortable. Just like for adults, having a comfortable and supportive mattress plays a big role for children in getting the kind of deep, restorative sleep that their growing minds and bodies need. If your child’s mattress is low-quality or just not right for them, it’s going to be hard for them to get the sleep they need. The right mattress for him or her provides support, meaning your child’s body gets the kind of cushioning that it needs to keep the spine aligned and their neck protected. If a mattress doesn’t have this kind of comfort and support, there’s a good chance that your child will have issues either falling or staying asleep.
It’s natural to want to do everything that you can to help your child grow up healthy and happy. This means avoiding the consequences of sleep deprivation. Early school start times, screen related distractions, busy schedules, and other external pressures have contributed to 52 percent of American children ages 6 to 17 getting less than the sleep recommended by pediatricians. Your child doesn’t need to be one of them!
You wouldn't send your child to dance practice without the right shoes or to school without their backpack. And yet, despite the fact that they spend a third of their lives sleeping, many of us haven't adequately given thought to the mattress their child or teen needs for restful sleep. Make today the day you change that! City Mattress has over 80 sleep comforts to choose from, so there’s sure to be a mattress they will love to fall asleep on.