One of the many challenges you have with each of your children is establishing a bedtime routine that allows both parents and children to get enough sleep. In ‘Is My Child Overtired? The Sleep Solution for Raising Happier, Healthier Children’, Dr. Will Wilkoff shares his belief that lack of sleep may cause more than yawning and difficulty getting your children out of bed in the morning. Symptoms such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity, Nocturnal Leg Pains, Migraine and Headaches in children may all be due to sleep deprivation.
It can be difficult to establish a healthy sleep routine with children of any age, especially if both parents are working and want to spend time with the children after work.
On top of that there is so much for children to do these days. Daily homework is expected of children aged just five. If they do not attend a certain number of classes, clubs and groups we fear that they will fall behind somehow. Then there are the TV shows they must watch to keep up with their classmates, the computer games to play, the cool websites and chatrooms to visit. Who wants to sleep? But if your child is often cranky, irritable, goes to sleep on the sofa or in the car or starts to fall behind at school could lack of sleep be the simple reason?
Dr. Will Wilkoff is a paediatrician with of 25 years experience and this has lead him to believe that in the majority of cases sleep deprivation may be either the main cause or a contributory factor in childhood ailments from unexplained headaches to ADHD.
His pitch is simple – if your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, yes, take him or her to a doctor, but it can do no harm to try and improve the child’s sleeping habits in the meantime, and whatever the diagnosis, a well rested child will be easier to deal with that a tired, cranky one.
For the parents of a newborn there are suggestions for starting a good sleep routine from day one. It is a tough regime, the recommendation being that a child should sleep in their own room from just one week old, no co-sleeping and the use of controlled crying as suggested by Dr. Richard Ferber in his book ‘Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems’.
Whatever age your child is, the book has a plan for establishing a new sleep routine, even for teenagers, although he concedes that persuading a teenager to go to bed earlier may be a difficult task. In fact he believes that there is an epidemic of sleep deprivation amongst teens, at one of the most stressful times of their lives.
There is also advice on the rarely discussed topic of moving a child from their cot to a proper bed without disrupting their sleep routine, or at least keeping the disruption to a minimum.
From choosing daycare, through school and on to college, avoiding becoming overtired, having a healthy sleep routine can be a huge factor in your child’s happiness and success.
With clear chapter summaries, guidelines on how much sleep a child should have at each age and action plans for getting your child to sleep more whatever their age, you have nothing to lose but their yawns!