What causes sleep problems in children?
Kids usually need more sleep than adults.
Good quality sleep is important for children's physical and mental health. Children often refuse to go to bed and have difficulty falling asleep.
However, they can be just as stubborn and have difficulty when it comes to waking up in the morning for school. These are common problems with children. Patience, practice, and discipline can help children overcome these issues. It is important for children to have an established sleep routine where they can sleep on time, wake up on time, get ready, and leave
for school on time.
Children finding it difficult to wake up may or may not have behavioral issues, a lack of routine, or other issues. These can be managed by lifestyle modifications. Serious sleep issues can be a result of depression, nutritional deficiencies, or other issues that need medical attention. Some children may not wake up for school because they may be bullied or have a hard time in school because of learning disabilities. Therefore, it is important to rule that out by talking to them and teachers at the school.
How much sleep do children need?
Typically, children need more sleep than adults. Recommended hours of sleep, including naps, based on children's age are as follows.
Sleep Guidelines for Children
||Recommended Hours of Sleep
|Newborn to 3 months
How a Lack of Sleep Impacts a Child's Behavior
The symptoms of a lack of sleep are often obvious to watchful parents. Some of these tell-tale signs include:
- recurrently falling asleep in the car (excluding young infants);
- requiring extreme stimulation and repetitive reminders to get up in the morning;
- behavioral abnormalities such as excessive emotionalism, aggression, and crankiness; and
- an older child's (over 8 years of age) recurrent need for an afternoon nap.
Ways to wake up a child for school
Shouting and punishing children for not waking up on time is often futile because they might eventually ignore the yelling and want to stay in bed longer. Yelling and punishing children can affect them negatively. There are more effective ways to wake up a child for school in the morning (serious sleep issues require medical attention).
- Observe and understand the child: Each child is different. Some children are night owls, whereas some are early birds. If a child finds it difficult to wake up in the morning, the entire family should wake up well before the time the child needs to leave for school.
- Make sure the child gets enough and good quality sleep: Children should be getting enough good quality sleep for them to be able to wake up on time without difficulty. Too much noise, snoring siblings or parents, too much light, going to bed too late, room temperature, their bedding, overexertion, screen time before bedtime, a diet rich in caffeine and sugar in the evening or close to bedtime, and night terrors are all factors that can affect children's quality of sleep. Children need to sleep in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable.
- Begin the day with positive words: Start the day by saying kind words to children such as "I love you!" or things you love about them. Talk to them about all the amazing things they would be able to do. This would also help them start their day on a happy and positive note. It would make them feel loved and appreciated.
- Play music: Playing music to children is a great way to wake them up. It will also act as a mood buster.
- Cook something that smells delicious: Smell can wake up a child. Cooking foods that the child enjoys gives them an incentive to get out of bed.
- Create a routine: Having a routine bedtime and wake-up time every day, including weekends, will help. Incorporating a simple checklist for them to follow in the morning will set in a routine and help discipline them.
- Turn up the noise: Turn up noise by using a loud alarm (encourage the child to turn it off; this way they would have to get out of bed) and do household chores such as vacuuming, cooking, doing dishes, or anything loud.
- Use pets: Pets are a great aid to wake up a child. It is also fun for the child and puts them in a positive mood immediately in the morning. Pets could be dogs, cats, or even birds.
- Take away their comforts when it is time to wake up: One way to wake them is by increasing room temperature by turning off air conditioning or turning up the thermostat. Another way to make them uncomfortable is by taking off their blanket. This would force them to wake up.
- Use natural light: The human body is tuned to wake up with natural sunlight. Opening up curtains to let natural light in can help wake up children.
- Give rewards: Giving children rewards does not necessarily mean giving them gifts. It could be something simple such as a sticker or giving them a few minutes of tech after they're fully ready for school if they wake up and get ready without being stubborn.
- Let the kid face natural consequences of being late: If all measures fail, children need to face the natural consequences of sleeping in and being late. Parents often get frustrated trying to prevent their children from facing any consequences and eventually take the frustration out by yelling and punishing them. This creates a tense atmosphere at home. In the long run, it is better to let the child face the consequences of being late now and then because it helps them learn about actions and consequences. Consequences they may face
for being late may include being late for or missing school, resulting in extra homework, facing detention in school,
or missing fun activities, camps, or playdates. Sometimes, consequences may be missing breakfast. Eventually, most children may take these consequences seriously and wake up on time.
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Medically Reviewed on 6/23/2021
Zamosky, Lisa. "5 Tips to Get Your Kids Up for School." Dec. 2, 2012. WebMD.com. <https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/get-kids-up-for-school#1>.