Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Helping Our School-Age Children Sleep Better when 23% have sleep problems!

Revisiting the importance of  healthy sleep habits in school-age children.
Common sleep problems and some strategies for resolving them... -JR

Helping Our School-Age Children Sleep Better
By Peri Klass, M.D.

"Everyone knows that getting a baby to sleep through the night can be a big challenge for parents. But sleep problems are common among preschool and school-age children, too. As we ask children to function in school, academically and socially, fatigue can affect their achievement and behavior.

Australian research on sleep problems in children has included work aimed at the “school transition” year in which children adjust to a school schedule. In a study of 4,460 children, 22.6 percent had sleep problems, according to their parents, at that transition age of 6 to 7 years. “We were surprised, we thought it was all baby sleep” that was the problem, said Dr. Harriet Hiscock, a pediatrician who is a senior research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne who was one of the authors of the study.

The most common sleep issues for children around the age of school entry, Dr. Hiscock said, definitely include limit-setting issues — that is, some of them need their parents to make the rules and routines clear. But there are also children with what sleep specialists call “sleep onset association disorder,” in which a child has become habituated to falling asleep only in a certain context, requiring the presence of a parent, or needing to have the TV on, to cite two common examples. Very anxious children are also often problem sleepers. And then there are children beset by nightmares, night terrors and early morning waking.

Many parts of the brain work less well when children are tired. “The prefrontal cortex is very sensitive to sleep deprivation, and it is key to the brain mechanisms which underlie executive function and some of the attention  processes,” she said. “The amygdala is affected by sleep deprivation and is essential for emotional processes.”"


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