For Children Sleep Problems are Easily Banished with Less Tech and More Play
My baby, the apple of my eye, must sleep like, well, a baby. But not many babies sleep well. And they give their mothers sleepless nights too. We normally associate sleep problems with age. Children should sleep soundly, long enough, to ensure proper physical and mental growth, and emotional stability. Sleep deprivation makes children muzzy and ill-tempered, and vulnerable overall. They become susceptible to infection and easily slip into depression. They get hurt often while playing because their reflexes are not good enough when they are not rested. Not getting enough sleep at night causes considerable mental fatigue, and memory and concentration suffer. It may sound strange, but for our children, sleep problems, missing a couple of hours of sleep every night, tend to lead to obesity as well.
It's certainly not a hopeless situation though. Experts assure us that in children sleep problems of the kind we usually see are quite treatable. Most of the time we only need to reschedule their day. Too little or too much structure can both obstruct sleep. It is easy to see how absence of a regular schedule may lead to late nights, but how overscheduling could do that seems difficult to understand. Too many activities before and after school, shift time for normal activities to an extent that sleep time undergoes drastic cuts.
There was a time when kids were just kids - no responsibilities, and lots of fun playing good old schoolyard games that were little stress. So, sleep came easily. Children, back then, had fewer distractions too.
Technology has contributed much to our world beyond doubt, but its influence on our sleep has been singularly destructive. Who would wish to sleep when there are TV and exciting online games to play and friends from all over the world to chat with? There are magical times to be had on the Internet on every device around the child - from a wristwatch to a cellphone. The worst part is that these diversions are bed-time intrusions, and the screens are right there in the bedroom. Recent studies show that our brain interprets the light emitted by the TV or the monitor screen as daylight and, as a result, impedes itself in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So, the feeling of softly slipping into soothing sleep is not for our kids anymore. To children sleep problems that are a part of their childhood even have a chance at becoming chonic.
Is it past hope? As long as you are determined to be your kid's true friend, nothing is beyond repair. The child's bedroom will have to be stripped of all media stuff, and the child will have to know that watching TV or playing video games will be allowed only as a reward for good work done. Stimulants of any kind will have to be kept away, and children will have to be pushed out in the evening to run around and play. A relaxing bath in warm, warm water before going to bed should seal the deal. This, together with loving care, should work for children who dont have medical problems that lead to sleeplessness. For children who don't respond to normal sleep-inducing techniques, seeing a doctor is advisable.