The Effects Of Insufficient Sleep In Children

The subject of insufficient sleep in children can not be a happy one. Immediate and long term consequences are too dire for that. However, with a positive approach you can do anything. With a fair amount of persistence, you as the parent can resolve any situation.

Understanding the basic consequences will provide you with motivation to make changes. Adding a dollop of persistence and a fair amount of patience will set you on your way. Consequently, in time, the issues of insufficient sleep in children may no longer be affecting your own family.

Essentially, sleep patterns are a parental responsibility and your children learn from your example. Furthermore, implementing a new sleep schedule is easier if your own sleep patterns are part of the transformation process. Getting a little extra sleep is likely to benefit you too. However, as the parent of a child who has been going without sleep, it may be difficult to decide the best sleep duration.

For this answer it is best to seek expert advice. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine gives sound recommendations. They say that teens require 8 to 10 hours sleep up until age 18. However, children aged 6 to 12 must have 9 to 12 hours to thrive emotionally and physically. Read on to successfully understand and address the problems of insufficient sleep in children.


Depression and anxiety disorders

Professor Alfano from Houston University, states that lack of sleep is due to various causes. These can include late bedtimes and haphazard sleep patterns or disruptions to sleep cycles. She goes on to say that understanding and addressing the problem of your child’s sleeplessness is crucial.

Childhood is the time when sleep and emotional conditioning is establishing itself. In addition, children have a need for more sleep than adults do and their brains are extremely pliable. Therefore, childhood is the best time to right the imbalances of insufficient sleep in children.

A life less fulfilling

Alfano and her colleague, Palmer, are co-authors for an article in Sleep Medicine Reviews. The research substantiates the fact that children who are tired experience a lack of motivation. Consequently, they are unlikely to pursue positive experiences that require effort. These patterns of inactivity increase the likelihood for depression and anxiety. Moreover, they lead to a life devoid of fulfillment.

With insufficient sleep in children, emotional intelligence and self discipline decreases. According to the authors, insight into the emotions of others is unusually low. Furthermore, there is an inability to notice the true meaning behind peoples’ words. Combining these deficiencies with low impulse control means that situations easily get out of hand. Insufficient sleep in children results in emotional disorders. As a parent it is your responsibility to address the matter.

Insufficient sleep in children

Brain changes

The following report on brain scans of sleepless children, reveals additional issues. The scans record brain activity after insufficient sleep duration. Researchers kept the children awake for 4 hours after their ideal bedtimes. Truthfully, the report is concerning for researchers and parents alike.

The test group includes kids from 5 to 12 years old. Results show that negative impacts possibly extend to brain development. You see, neural pathways change with different stimuli, especially in youngsters. The pliability of their neurons means they are more vulnerable to changes. In the case of sleep deprivation, transformations can only be negative.

In addition, the scans show changes to the myelin sheath. Although this study was a small one, there is always the possibility that it is valid across the board. The research team included experienced scientists from the University of Colorado and University Hospital Zurich, amongst others. Moreover, the subjects were 13 healthy children without sleep issues. Many other studies continue to prove that the effects of insufficient sleep in children are damaging.

The following research by a Harvard paediatrician correlates the effects of insufficient sleep on children aged 3 to 7 years old. Findings are similar to the one by the University of Houston. Similarities include challenges with focus, mood and emotional stability. Further revelations show a logical progression to behavioural problems. Consequently, these children experience difficulties in relationships with their peers. In addition, they are less happy at home.

Furthermore, the results show a persistent decrease in the function of neurons by age 7. Elsie Travis, the leader of the team says that sleep deprivation in infancy is a precursor to sleep issues in later childhood. However, the repurcussions of insufficient sleep in children can be avoided. Ensuring that babies get enough sleep is critical.


Labros Sidossis, is professor of the Department of Kinesiology and Health. He works at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. His researchers did a study on a very large group of children regarding dietry choices. Results show that a chronic lack of sleep can lead to lack of interest in eating breakfast. Furthermore, sleep deprivation leads to cravings, an unbalanced diet and a higher sugar intake. In addition, results state that obesity and increasing media time are linked. These problems are especially concerning, since out of the group of 177 000, 40 percent get insufficient sleep.

The good news

After all the bad news, it is time to look at some of the wonderful benefits of a great sleep schedule for your child. There is much to gain by ensuring she gets enough shut eye.

Great sleep promotes physical fitness.

Did you know that your child will have more aerobic stamina if she sleeps well? The same study at New brunswick showed that sleep deprived teens have markedly lower fitness levels. This is logical, since they lack motivation and tend to physical inactivity. Conversely, those with healthier sleep schedules demonstrate superior aerobic capabilities.

And more

Because enough sleep means she feels better, deep nightly slumbers provide your child with a happier childhood. Furthermore, enough shut eye makes her clever since time for dreaming enhances problem solving abilities. Yes! While your child sleeps, her mind is finding solutions to varied challenges.

So, taking steps to make the relevant changes is more than worthwhile. Your child’s present and future quality of life depends on it. Moreover, the steps are doable especially when you take them one at a time. Therefore, implement one change a week. Gradual transformation is best when addressing insufficient sleep in children.

Insufficient sleep in children can lead to bad life quality.

Step 1

Dietary dilemma

Naturally, you cannot always control what your child eats away from home. However, you can turn your own pantry into a nutritionally supportive space. Healthy sleep patterns for your child begins with what she eats. To successfully address insuffcient sleep in children, a wholesome diet is vital.

Firstly, avoid purchasing stimulants at all costs. These include sugar, salt and coffee or chocolate. Sweets do not belong in a cupboard that provides the nutrition for your family. In addition, avoid refined foods. They tend to be full of sugar or carbohydrates that very quickly turn into unhealthy sugars.

Step 2

Caffiene and MSG etc

Another no-no is caffeine. In fact, water and herb teas are more effective for quenching thirst. Furthermore, beware of spices such as salt. Particularly the artificial chemical under the guise of table salt. Rather buy real desert salt and slowly reduce intake. However, dinners should contain minimal or no salt, although herbs are a lovely option.

In addition, chilli at dinner time aggravates the blood. For the same reason eliminate bottled sauces with MSG and sugar. Monosodium glutamate is what junk food companies add to their products to stimulate your appetite. The more they sell the wealthier they get. The problem is that they gain their riches at the expense of your family’s health. Insufficient sleep in children caused by the above substances is easy to avoid by finding creative substitutes.

A little of something bad can be good

Do not despair! Not everything is forever out of bounds. However, when you and your children do indulge, make it a few times a month instead of a few times a day. Naturally, rewarding yourselves for your successes is important for morale. Sharing an indulgent feast once a week is great fun.

Step 3


insufficient sleep in children can be due to dehydration.

When a baby cries, parents seldom think to give water. Whereas it is the first issue they should address. Emergency rescue services do the same after the biggest disasters. Certainly, your baby’s upsets will benefit too! The second most urgent issue for a little one is hunger, and thereafter a nappy change. If all these are in order, over-tiredness is the most likely problem.

Since hydration allows for calm emotions and superb sleeps, ensure your baby gets used to drinking water from young. Instilling healthy water-drinking habits from infancy is vital. Moreover, it is never to late to start paying attention to hydration. Excellent hydration ensures sleep hormones and all body systems function optimally. Encourage excellent hydration to avoid insufficient sleep in children.

Step 4

Natural Cycles

To improve sleep patterns, follow the natural cycles of nature. Although, having to deal with insufficient sleep in children can be a challenge in modern times. The demands of life are many. However, balance is far more relevant to a life of joy.

The thing is, hormones respond to activity or lack of it in relation to light and dark. Living accordingly is thus best. Therefore, the hour before dusk is the best time to shower and prepare dinner. Whereas the time between dusk and dark is perfect for a peaceful family dinner, story time is ideal once it is dark. Moreover, peaceful stories encourage restful slumbers. Later, when your child is asleep, it is your turn to relax in bed with a calming book. Enjoy the pleasure of drifting off to deep sleep with delightful dreams.

Speaking of dreams, that is another thing you will notice. A healthier diet, hydration and a peaceful evening makes all the difference. Sleep disruptions for children who previously suffered from bad dreams, will decrease or disappear altogether.

Step 5

Annoying Allergies

Allergies can be the cause of insufficient sleep in children. They do not have to be sneezing to be victims of these sleep-disruptors. Bacteria, fungus and dust mites in the bed trigger allergic responses. Issues can be in the respiratory system or irritations to the skin. Therefore, replace old mattresses with fresh new ones.

Alternatively, set aside a warm weekend to deep clean mattresses that are still in decent condition. The procedure is simple. Use a liberal spraying of distilled, white vinegar. Next, spread a generous amount of baking soda. Wait 2 hours, vacuum thoroughly and allow to dry completely. Then, repeat on the other side and do the same for your pillows. Thereafter, protect your hard work and use waterproof, dust mite and bacteria resistant mattress and pillow covers.

Furthermore, use natural fabrics so that skin and body can breathe comfortably in summer as well as winter. Bodies that are over-heating in synthetics, do not sleep easily. Choose mattresses, mattress covers and bedding that keeps your child comfortable and safe from allergies.

Finally, apply the same approach to pyjamas. Depending on the season, ideal fabrics are organic cottons, hemp, wool and bamboo.


The awful consequences of insufficient sleep in children can be a frightening truth for any parent to face up to. However, taking one logical step at a time will show excellent results.