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When it comes to our own bodies, it’s very easy for us to know if we’re not sleeping well. We wake up tired, have difficulty getting to sleep or wake in the night and we feel far from our best. After-all, we all know our own bodies incredibly well, so it’s easy for us to spot when we’re not feeling at our best.

If only it was so easy to determine a lack of quality sleep in our children! Unfortunately, deciding if our children are sleeping well can be far harder than you might think. This is because children all evoke sleepiness in different manners with tired babies and teenagers acting very differently. But it’s essential that we know the main signs of tiredness in our children, as a poor sleep – no matter what the age – can be devestating to a child’s growth and development. Here are some of the main signs, based on age, that your child is suffering from sleeping problems:

ChildBabies and Toddlers

Of all children, babies and toddlers are probably the easiest to spot sleeping disorders in. As well as obvious grogginess and yawning, young children will often become very cranky, whiny and clingy in the late afternoon when tired. They might be fidgety or unusually hyperactive and wake up groggy. They may also snore or fall asleep during small car journeys.

Children Under 12

As your children get older, they should be able to communicate a bad night’s sleep to you, however, that doesn’t mean that they will, so it’s essential you look for signs. As well as generally acting tired, unusual hyperactivity, napping and difficulty waking in the morning are key signs of bad sleep. Again, snoring and difficulty getting to sleep and trouble with their school work should also give us warning signs, as is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety.

Teenagers

The problem with diagnosing sleeping problems in teenagers is that many of us simply pass off tell-tale signs as being ‘typical grumpy teenage behaviour’. It’s essential, though, that we ignore the so-called Kevin and Perry view of what a teenager acts like, as mood swings, irritability, unable to wake in the morning and feeling unmotivated are actually all signs of a sleeping problem – not just teenage hormones! Other key signs include academic issues, being late, drinking too much caffeine and feeling nervous or anxious about certain situations.

Once you’ve diagnosed a sleeping issue with your child, if you can, sit them down and have a chat about how well they think they sleep. Ask questions about how easy they feel they fall asleep, if they wake in the night and whether they feel overly tired – but keep in mind that if they’re always experienced sleep troubles they may not realise they are actually tired. It may, at this point, be worth keeping a sleep diary for your child over one to two weeks.

The next stage should be a trip to the GP to ensure there are no underlying factors causing a poor night’s sleep and ask for any advice. If there’s no health issues, improving sleep is best achieved from implementing a good sleep routine at night. This should be the same every night and could include no technology an hour before bed, a hot bath an hour before bed, using a lavender spray in the bedroom and dimming the lights to help encourage the body to release melatonin.

A new bed and blackout curtains, that ensure the best sleeping environment possible, are also beneficial to a good night’s sleep. 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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