Parents now have yet another reason to make sure that their kids always go to bed on time. That’s because there’s a new study that suggests more and more children are sleep deprived and that it’s affecting their development. For a lot of parents, the reasons behind this isn’t surprising at all. School-aged kids are having a hard time sticking to their scheduled bedtime because of their busy schedules, homework and yes, screen time.
According to Today’s Parent, there’s new research that suggests sleep deprivation in children might be linked to ADHD. In fact, it’s been known for years that kids who have ADHD have had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep for years. Unfortunately, their medications – which are in itself stimulants – can be a reason why their circadian rhythm is often disturbed. If that weren’t enough, excessive screen time is also a problem that has gotten worse and one of the reasons why kids aren’t getting enough rest. Instead of going to bed on time, more often than not, many kids will sneak in a few extra minutes with their iPads or electronic devices before going to bed.
“It’s much more interactive now, with bright, fancy movements, and kids are constantly swiping from this activity to that activity,” says Michelle Ponti, a pediatrician in London, Ont., and the chair of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s Digital Health Task Force. “The child’s brain is constantly having to make sense of all those visuals.”
Kids who don’t get enough sleep often show signs of being less attentive, more impulsive, and have a hard time regulating their emotions. This leads to a series of behavioral, neurodevelopmental or learning problems and challenges, which can only be exacerbated more by a lack of sleep.
So what are parents to do? First and foremost, make sure that your kids stick to their bedtime, and make no excuses about it. Make sure that your child hasn’t had any screen time right before bed.
If you are very concerned that your child might have a sleep disorder or that he or she might have sleep apnea, definitely consult their pediatrician. If you see signs of emotional dysregulation, it might be due to a lack of sleep.
Also, waking up to a nutritious, hearty breakfast will help kick-start the day. Kids need their sleep as much as adults do in order to function throughout the day and of course, be alert, attentive and ready to take on their tasks and challenges, whether it’s at school, home, or on the playground.