5 Signs your Child May be Sleep Deprived

Understand which behaviors could indicate a sleep shortage, and learn how to correct youth sleep patterns.

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Did you know, sleep deprivation is not uncommon among children? Research studies show that as many as half of school age children are not getting enough sleep during the week. While one night of lost sleep is fine, ongoing sleep deprivation is linked with many negative health conditions.

Not sure if your child is getting enough sleep at night? Here are a few signs they may need more shut-eye.

Wakes up slowly

When you go into your child’s room in the morning, do they respond quickly to your voice? Or do you have to continuously coax them to wake up?

Children still deep in sleep in the morning may not have experienced enough sleep cycles. So if your child takes a while to get out of bed and then walks around like a zombie, they may need more sleep.

Demonstrates moody behavior

Does your child seem unlike their usual temperament and mood? Are they getting into fights at daycare or school? Children lacking sleep have more difficulty controlling their emotions. 

If your child exhibits unusual behavioral outbursts, show them grace and see if extra sleep helps alleviate the moodiness.

Acts hyperactive

Is your child dazed one minute, then bouncing off the walls the next minute? When humans are overtired, they enter into a slap happy surreal state. For children, they exhibit hyper behavior.

So although this seems counterintuitive, a child with very high energy levels may in fact be running on empty.

Falls asleep outside of schedule

Does your child fall asleep in school? Or does your toddler doze off before their usual nap time?

Sleeping more during the day can be an attempt to make up for lost nighttime sleep. Monitor your child’s daytime sleep patterns for unusual sleep increases. Some periods of extra sleep could also be linked with a growth spurt in your child.

Rubs eyes and yawns

Does your child rub their eyelids or blink quickly? What about yawn or stare into the distance?

While these are perhaps the most obvious signs that children are tired, busy parents may miss these visual cues. In the evening, consider starting your child’s bedtime routine early if you notice excessive eye rubbing and yawning.

How to handle sleep deprivation in kids

Concerned parents still have time to act before sleep deprivation becomes an ongoing chronic issue for their child. Watch for these five signs of over tiredness, then make corrections to your child’s sleep schedule. Check out this ultimate guide to kids’ sleep which includes setting appropriate bedtimes and nap durations. 

Also consider what could be triggering the loss of sleep. Did your child’s sleep environment recently change, such as a new home, bedroom, or pillow? Are they experiencing more stress than usual because of a daycare or school situation? Try to talk with your child about what might be bothering them.

Lastly, do not hesitate to ask for help from trained sleep specialists. Go through your child’s pediatrician for a referral.

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