Good sleep is important for improved health, attention span, mental and physical health and a better quality of life. Getting adequate rest enables the body to repair and be ready for another day. Typical sleep development patterns are as follows:
Sleep deprivation can lead to various health issues. According to studies losing sleep can make a person more prone to accident, obesity, diabetes, depression and ADHD. Even if an hour of sleep is lost it can have negative effects on emotions and behaviours of an individual.
Sleeping problems or sleep deprivation can be a result of stress, hectic schedule or other external factors. However, they may also indicate a sleeping disorder such as Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Parasomnias, Restless leg syndrome or Narcolepsy.
What sleep deprivation looks like?
If your child is sleep deprived they might display the following signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Tired and fatigued
- Unusual breathing patterns
- Restlessness while trying to sleep
- Irritability or anxiety
- Impaired performance at school
- Lack of concentration
- Weight gain
Sleep deprivation is often treated by an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist assesses issues related to sleep preparation, latency, duration and daytime sleep patterns. After assessing and evaluating the impact of sleep on school or work and sensory systems an occupational therapist addresses factors that are reducing the quality of sleep of a person.
An occupational therapist usually aims to establish a sleeping routine by eliminating all the sleep related issues. They might suggest modifying the sleeping environment, lights, noise, temperature, bedding to ensure good quality sleep. An occupational therapist might also teach a child self-regulation and relaxing techniques so they can put themselves to sleep.
What can be done at home to improve the quality of sleep?
- Keep a diary with sleeping and waking up times for your child
- Fix sleeping routine
- Keep lights in the bedroom dimmed in the evening to prepare your child for sleep at night
- Give your child a warm bath before bedtime
- Practice calming exercises before bedtime
- Make bedding comfortable
- Reduce naps during the day
- Reduce sugar intake before bed
- Avoid drinking fluids before bed
- Don’t let your child have heavy meals right before bed
- Don’t let your child have screen time right before bed