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Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Everybody needs sleep, but many of us don’t get enough. This can make it hard to get through the day and can have long-term effects on health. The risks are particularly serious for children, who need to get enough rest to grow and succeed in school and other activities.

Potential Problems

Inadequate sleep can affect kids in many ways. A child who is tired may have trouble getting ready for school on time and concentrating in class, which can lead to academic struggles. Kids often experience behavioral problems when they don’t get enough rest. They may have outbursts, throw tantrums, be hyperactive or behave aggressively. Children may be more likely to develop mental health or substance abuse problems.

Why Kids Don’t Get Enough Rest

Despite all these risks, many children don’t get enough sleep, and there are a variety of reasons for that. Some kids want to pursue interests in sports, music and other activities, and their parents want to be supportive but allow them to do more than they can realistically handle. Sometimes kids have a lot of homework, or they put off doing it because they would rather watch TV or play video games.

Technology often causes kids to not get enough sleep. Many children have TVs in their bedrooms and smart phones that they use to talk, text and participate in social media. The problem? All those distractions can make it hard for children to fall asleep, or can cause them to wake up in the middle of the night. The light from a screen has also been proven to make it harder for people to fall asleep.

How to Make Sure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep

The best way to make sure your child gets enough rest is to have some frank conversations and set rules. Talk to your child about the amount of sleep they need and how a lack of sleep affects things like your child’s mood and school performance. If your child is involved in so many extracurricular activities that there simply isn’t enough time in the day for them to get enough sleep, you may need to make the difficult decision of having them cut back.

Establish a firm bedtime and enforce it. While your child may whine and complain, stand your ground. Don’t allow your child to have electronics in their bedroom during sleeping hours; there is too much potential for distraction. If your child uses the alarm on a phone to wake up, an alarm clock is a better solution.

Recognize the Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for your child’s health. While seemingly not a big deal, not getting enough sleep can have serious side effects on your child’s health and development. Talk to your child, set rules and make sleep a priority.