Sleep is as important to children as adequate nutrition. Sleep disorders are common in childhood affecting 25% of children at some point.
WHY IS SLEEP AN ISSUE FOR FAMILIES?
Children spend half of their lives asleep. Sleep is as important to children as adequate nutrition. Sleep disorders are common in childhood affecting 25% of children at some point. Disturbance or restrictions to achieving good sleep impairs learning, mood, behaviour and health.
Following a simple sleep plan can often help reduce the problems created when children don't sleep. A Sleep Practitioner can offer guidance to parents and carers about the right interventions that could restore the child's sleep pattern.
Here we give some background information about sleep, sleep disorders and the problems created by poor sleep practices. If you think you need help with sleep please get in touch today.
IMPACT OF SLEEP ISSUES FOR FAMILIES OF DISABLED CHILDREN
Many studies have connected sleep disorders occurring in children with additional needs as ranging between 60 – 80% (Durand 1998, Stores 1993, Quine 1997). Contact a Family (2004) surveyed over 2000 families of children with disabilities and 72% said tiredness and lack of sleep had been a problem since having a disabled child, and 84% of those perceived the problem was linked to having a disabled child.
Sleep issues were rated second only to stress and depression in relation to having a disabled child. Stress and lack of sleep can increase each other and associate very strongly with depression. This has a major negative impact on family relationships becoming a significant factor in family breakdown.
More recently in 2013 the Family Fund (www.familyfund.org.uk) produced a report into sleep deprivation amongst families of disabled children called “Tired All the Time” This report was driven by the many requests that the Family Fund received from families for sleep support and by the feedback from other organisations and services providing sleep support to families of disabled children. In the report one of the key findings is that parents often do not know where to go to seek help with sleep issues and therefore the report recommends that:
“Sleep Services should be listed in the Local Offer (England) and in signposting services for families of disabled children in local areas. Families should know how, where and when to access such advice and support services."
REASONS FOR SLEEP DISORDERS
Generally poor sleep practice arises from parents having very little or no advice or support in implementing good sleep habits and in turn means that they are often unable to teach their children good sleep habits such as how to sleep in their own beds or self soothe to prevent night waking.
Outside of lack of advice on good sleep practice there are many other reasons for sleep issues developing:
Parents may unwittingly disrupt a child’s sleep pattern by over protective or over-stimulating.
There may be a physical basis for sleep problems e.g. Cerebral Palsy (turning, positioning, reflux), Eczema (itch/scratch cycle), Epilepsy (seizures) etc.
Communication disorders e.g. Autism, which can interfere with a good bedtime routine.
Children may be hyperactive e.g. ADHD.
Prolonged hospitalisation in infancy may disrupt the establishment of regular sleep.
Medication may interfere with natural sleep cycles
Over tired children are often hyperactive and have attention deficits. They are often very irritable, over emotional and difficult to manage.
There may be psychological factors such as nightmares or anxiety.
There may be respiratory problems.