Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth, the author cites sleep deprivation as a major problem for today's overscheduled kids. In a child, inadequate sleep can lead to drowsiness or hyperalertness, inattention, and decreased concentration. It can cause laziness, impulsiveness, difficult mood, and hard-to-control behavior. Kids can even get frequent headaches or vague abdominal pain. They may experience decreased energy, grumpiness, excitability, irritability, or tenseness. Poor sleep leads to increased adrenaline and cortisol. No wonder these kids are so cranky!
Dr. Weissbluth maintains that parents can often create sleep problems for their kids if sleep times are inconsistent and regular sleep habits aren't developed. Kids will often fight sleep in order to keep playing. If sleep is postponed for too long, kids may become too tired to fall asleep. Crying may be due to just being overtired.
Naps are felt to be most effective when they occur at the right time and in the crib or bed. Sleep quality is felt to be poor in cars, swings, strollers, rocking chairs, and arms. The author recommends that parents start sleep training early and use a sleep log. Parents should put the child to sleep in a quiet, dark room with no lights or music. When it's time to sleep, parents should not respond to every cry. They need to allow the child to learn to fall asleep unassisted. However, if a child misses a nap, parents should keep the child awake until next sleep period to maintain the sleep rhythm.
Various sleep problems are discussed in the book, along with many possible solutions. Sticking to a sleep routine can help to minimize kids' behavior problems and keep kids happy.