Sleep Deprivation in Children: Effects, Causes, Solutions, and More


Sleep is an unconscious state of mind from which a person can be aroused. It is a dynamic process when the brain inhibits certain parts of the brain that makes a person asleep. In this restive state, the human body regenerates, repairs, rebuilds and also refreshes the brain. Sleep is known to aid the overall development of the body and the brain. Sleep requirement differs depending on the stage of life of a person. Babies need about 14-18 hours of sleep for the healthy development of the body.

This requirement slowly decreases as the baby enters each stage of life – toddlerhood, kid, adolescent, adult and old age. School going children between the age of 3 and 5 years, require around 11-12 total hours of sleep including nap time. There is a growing trend of children sleeping less than previously. Lack of sleep or sleep debt has numerous effects on the children, physically and psychologically.

 Physical Effects

Long-term sleep deprivation leads to a number of physical health issues.

1. Obesity

ObesityChildren who do not get the required hours of sleep have greater chances of weight gain. It is not very clear why sleep debt poses increased risk to obesity. However, recent studies show that ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that influence a person’s appetite. Studies show that children sleeping for lesser number of hours show a greater percentage of ghrelin, which causes increased feelings of hunger. More the number of hours a child is awake, he/she spends more time in eating. This leads to unmindful eating leading to gain of unnecessary pounds.

2. Diabetes

DiabetesLack of sleep induces insulin resistance in the body that could cause diabetes in children. With insulin resistance, the cells fail to use the hormone properly. This leads to high levels of blood sugar, thus making the children diabetic. A child having diabetes is prone to have eyes, kidneys, nervous and cardiovascular problems.

3. Impaired immune system

Impaired-immune-systemDepriving the body not to heal and regenerate leads to impaired immune system. It is important for child to have a strong immune system which protects him/her from various illnesses, virus and host of infections. A good quality sleep helps the body to restore and helps release of growth hormones which are essential for the healthy development of children. Along with diet and relaxation, it is quite necessary that the body gets rest and give it a chance to recuperate for a better and stronger health.

Psychological Effects

Sleep debt causes problems related to memory, attention, concentration, behavior and emotional imbalance and other psychological problems. This leads to poor performance in school and affects their relationships at home as well as outside home. They display a range of schooling problems.

1. Lack of attention and concentration

Lack-of-attention-and-concentrationWith few hours of sleep, the brain, which is the center of learning, is unable to focus and lacks the energy to accomplish a task. This makes a kid yawn frequently, doze off in a class, unable to comprehend and fails to make logical decisions. Sleeping well makes the body to generate newer cells that aid in better memory, retention and learning. Children having less sleep hours are seen to have poor memory. It is necessary that children should start the day energetic and fresh for an optimal performance during the day.

2. Behavioral problems

Behavioral-problemsChildren have mood swings, depression, irritation, confusion, anxiety with less amount of sleep. There is an increased level of cortisol, the stress hormone leading to a number of behavioral problems. Studies show a corelation between sleep disorders and ADHD. Quality of sleep leads to inattentiveness, restlessness and difficulty in concentration, which are signs of ADHD. Lack of sleep also make them cranky, highly irritated, over-active, feel groggy in the morning, throw temper tantrums and have day time naps. Sleep-deprived children often display problems in controlling their impulse that leads to risk-taking behavior.

The reasons behind lack of sleep in kids

lack-of-sleep-in-kidsEarly to the bed and early to rise makes man healthy in his life. This is the common rule of almost every family especially for the children. But these days parents having teenage kids are mainly dealing with the biggest challenge and that is their kids sleeping pattern. In present time most of the kids are being noticed with irregular sleeping routines. Either they sleep for longer hours or they do not even sleep for minimal required hours. The most common trait which has been identified is to stay up late in the night and leaving bed in the morning with so much difficulty after pushing themselves so hard. As a result of it somewhere it also leads to changes in their behavior as well. If your child also showing the same characteristics then the following brief description will very much help you in finding some positive solution out of this.

Causes of irregular sleep cycle

First of all we need to focus our attention over the main causes responsible for this disturbance in your child’s life. And accordingly remedy will be decided. Here is the list of some causes which are very much responsible for irregular sleep cycle in teenagers:

1. Your child’s internal clock

delaying timeEvery human body has its own kind of internal clock which indirectly influences the sleep cycle, eating habits, body temperature and hormonal changes. There is one process comprises of biological and psychological aspects and which follows the cycle of 24-hour internal clock and it is called as circadian rhythms. Usually before adolescence this circadian rhythm allows children to sleep around 8 or 9 pm. But later the puberty changes may also affect the circadian rhythm and by delaying time they start feeling sleepy and stretched out till 11 pm in the night or even more. Forcing oneself for staying up late for some factors such as late-night studies or playing can be the major reason for this irregularity.

2. Too little sleep

sleep in a dayIt is expected that kids should have 9 hours sleep in a day at regular basis. But due to various prime activities demanded in society such as early morning classes, over burden of homework from education institutes, extracurricular activities, part time jobs, use of computers and gadgets and many more social demands are proving to be severe hurdles in regular routine of the child. As a result the recent studies also states that in today’s time more than 90 percent teenagers have their sleep less than recommended 9 hours sleep.

However, mostly people take this fact very lightly and do not get idea about its consequences. Ultimately irregular sleeping patterns may lead to tiredness in teenage behavior and become very week in controlling their concentration and learning ability will reduce. Mood swings can be the major sign of their disturbed behavior. Another important point is it may lead to drowsiness feeling which can effect in various actions like in driving and may results into severe accidents.

Solutions to irregular sleep cycle in children

Well even if your teenage child facing with these difficulties in his or her life, still there are possibilities and remedies to bring their life back on track. No matter if their internal clock gets disturbed, it can be reset easily. And consequently, you can help your child in improving their sleep habits. Here are some solutions to it:

1. Adjust the lightening

Adjust the lighteningEspecially, in your child’s room try to dim the lights as the sleeping time approaches in the night. And switch off the lights once he or she prepares for sleep. And try to make them view the morning with bright light exposure in their room. These things may help them to differentiate between day and night timing in their respective lives.

2. Stick to schedule

Try to make them realize with the fact that they should follow a definite regime or time table in their lives. For example – they should set fix time for going to the bed during night and get up time in the morning. And that should be strictly followed in weekends as well. They should try to avoid doing late night activities such as socializing and extracurricular activities should try to cover during day time. Also, average time should be allotted to part time jobs.

3. Nix long naps

Nix long napsIf your teen feels little drowsiness during day time and find difficulty being awake during class time then a 30 minute nap can also be very much helpful to refresh them for later hours of the day. But they should try to avoid long hour sleep because that may result into sleepless nights further.

4. Curb the caffeine

Consumption of caffeine can also harm your child. Drinks like tea, coffee should be avoided by them more often. Because these drinks mainly helps individual making him awake for longer hours. As a result of it night sleep can be affected.

5. Keep it calm

advice your teenYou should advice your teen to not to spend so much time in listening loud music, computers, text messaging, doing rigorous exercise, watching television etc. especially an hour or two before sleep. Instead of that they should bring activities like reading a book, or take warm shower or do any relaxing work before going for sleep.

6. Know when to unplug

Parents are advised to strictly set a time for watching television for their children. And the same rule should be followed in usage of other possessions as well such as computers, cellphone use or any other electronic gadgets.

Therefore, by following these measures you can very much help your child in resetting their internal clock. But you should also try to avoid them having sleeping pills or any kind of meditation without any consult of doctor. 

Some Other tips to Help Your Child

Establish a bedtime routine

  1. Establish a bedtime routine to encourage your child to go to sleep at a particular time. Create a soothing, pleasant sleeping environment to help your child sleep better.
  2. Diet and lifestyle are some of the great contributors for the quality of sleep that your child gets. Avoid giving sugary food or drinks, heavy meals few hours before your child gets to bed. Usage of television viewing, computer usage should be restricted.
  3. Relaxation techniques will help your child to fall asleep quickly.
  4. Your child may have trouble going to sleep due to nightmares, stress and anxiety. Talk to your child and allay his/her fears and let him/her know that you are there to help her/him.

Parents should give equal importance to the child’s healthy diet as well as quality of sleep for the overall development of the child. Discuss and inculcate a good sleeping pattern and the need to start fresh and energetic every day.

7 Yoga poses to help your child sleep better

Yoga poses to help your child sleep betterIn such circumstances, certain wellness techniques like Yoga come as a ray of hope for many. It helps in catching up the balance between your body and mind. You can reap the advantages of bedtime yoga that can end up your sleep issue. Well, let check the 7 Yoga poses to help you sleep better in the following paragraphs:

1. Try the Hero Pose

Hero PoseOne of the vital Yoga poses to help you sleep better you can try is the Hero Pose called Virasana. All you need to do is to start in a seating pose having the glutes resting over the heels having the tops of your heel over the mat. This exercise before sleep adds a gentle stretching action over your ankles and knees. One of the critical advantages of bedtime yoga is that it will help you in lubricating the fluid to the said body parts and guard them against any injury and thus keep even the minor discomfort at bay. This yoga pose would help you in keeping you at cool, warm and comfortable without adding any motion.

2. The Child Pose

The other important Yoga pose to help you sleep better is the Child Pose, which has a technical name – Balasana. For doing this exercise before sleep, you need to sink back your hips from the tabletop and then settle down the chest found in between your thighs. In this pose, you would see the big toes touching together with your knees far away. This will help you in settling down with great comfort and thus allow you to get a deep breath. Now, as you see the forehead resting over the floor, you just have to walk your fingertips over the front area along and at the same time you need to stretch your arms. Also, you have the option of moving your forehead from one side to the other that will allow you to get a small face massage.

3. The Cat & Cow Pose – the key Yoga poses to help you sleep better

The Cat & Cow PoseThis Yoga pose has a technical term that says Marjaryasana and Bitilasana. It helps in getting insomnia or deep relaxation. To do this Yoga pose, you need to roll down your knees and hands. You are supposed to exhale as you tilt your head and your tailbone down to the floor, which ends up arching your spine over a C-curve and thus pulling your shoulder blades apart. Now, inhale like a cow pose by bringing your head and tailbone above while you hollow the lower back. Make sure the flow you find in between the poses should follow the same inhale and exhale pattern while there is a space found between each vertebra of your spine. Once you go do down, make sure you are back with the neutral spine over the tabletop.

4. Legs Up the Wall

This yoga has its own name called ViparitaKarani. For carrying out this yoga pose, you need to unfold your legs from the figure four stretch straight over the wall. Now start bringing the tailbone close to the wall base. This pose can add a gentle kind of hamstring stretch. This pose will also help in draining the lactic and lymph acid from your legs apart from preventing the injuries. That’s not all; it also keeps the soreness and fatigue at bay while you spend much of your time over your feet. Allow the looseness you have with your stretch while you feel the comfort.

5. Happy Baby

Happy-Baby.This is one of the key Yoga poses to help you sleep better, which is also called as Ananda Balasana. All you have to do is to bring the knees over your chest and now grab the big toes using your middle and index fingers. Now, you just need to pull the heels over the ceiling while you allow the tailbone to move down over the floor. Make sure while you try this yoga, your knees should be able to pull over your underarm area and by rocking back and forth the same you end up gently massaging your spine. This Yoga pose is among the best ways of relieving the abdominal discomfort and giving an ideal spinal relaxation pose.

6. Supine Spinal Twist

This yoga pose is also called as SuptaJaṭharaParivartānāsana, which is good for sleep. For this yoga, pose, you need to keep your knees bend and then make them straight over the top leg or simply choose to make them straight using both the legs. If you still do not feel the twist, make sure you adjust the tailbone and then bring the glutes ahead over the mat and keep them over the center.

7. Corpse Pose

Corpse PoseThis yoga pose is also called Savasana, which helps in insomnia or deep relaxation. For this Yoga pose, all you need to release the feet down over the bed or mat allowing your toes to get down over the sides. Now, you just have to do one thing, release your hands in such a way that they start facing up while the back of your hands is seen resting over the bed just away from your hips. Allow your eyes to close, and you feel the lightness in your mind and thoughts giving you a free-flowing breathing making your body feel relaxed and feel the lightness.

Today's Top Articles:

Scroll to Top