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Children and Sleep


School started over a month ago, yet the fight over getting up in the morning is just as brutal as it was the first week of school. “Get up now!” can be heard in households nationwide as parents go back time and again to yell, scream, and eventually drag a drowsy adolescent or teen out of bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s biological. Teens need an average of nine to ten hours of sleep each night, however, their biological sleep patterns make it difficult for them to get to sleep before 11:00 pm – and nearly impossible to wake without a struggle. So why do so many parents insist on a 9:00 p.m. bedtime and a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call? Because the real world is calling and their rules are “written in blood” – there is a zero tolerance for tardiness and delays.

Parents know adolescents and teens are still growing and a lack of sleep or poor sleep routines affect behavior, attention span, memory, and performance. Scientists have concluded too little sleep affects mental health, physical health, self-esteem, emotions, and a desire to achieve. Hyperactivity, irritability, impulsiveness, and behavioral disorders can result from a lack of sleep – effects often carried into adulthood. Recent studies have shown a juxtaposition between a lack of sleep, cognitive disorders, and the risk of depression. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of licensed professionals treat an array of psychiatric, behavioral, and cognitive disorders.

“Beyond genes, sleep patterns are influenced by a strong biological pull. The body’s circadian rhythm dictates what time a person falls asleep and wakes up, and that can be very difficult to change.” Not wanting to get up in the morning is common among many and helping a child problem-solve their way to a better morning routine will definitely work for some. Others who feel insecure or unsafe may find sleep a way to avoid anxiety and phobias. Remaining in a dream state is a safe place, hideaway, and escape from reality. Studies have shown that some children diagnosed with ADHD may be sleep deprived. Other factors such as changing bodies, social activities, schedules, and environment are known causes of sleep deprivation in teens.
A feeling of inadequate or poor quality sleep, trouble remaining asleep, or failure to reach REM sleep is insomnia, a behavior disorder shown to increase the risk of depression and a known side effect of mental and behavioral disorders. Additionally, a lack of sleep can contribute to obesity, hyperactivity, and diabetes in children, adolescents, and teens. School, peer pressure, extracurricular activities, after-school jobs, homework, and chores compete for their time. The struggle between meeting demands and getting a good night’s sleep in an ever changing body is challenging. Failure to “rise and shine, starry-eyed and bushy tailed”, could be the sign of a sleep disorder. “Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes people to feel severely tired during the day. They may fall asleep suddenly at any time or place. These “sleep attacks” can occur while eating, walking, or driving. This disorder most often begins to affect people when they are between the ages of 15 and 25.”

A child who refuses to get up in the morning affects an entire household. Anxiety and stress coupled with harsh words, bad feelings, skewed schedules, and in some cases flight, fright, and violence. Improving Lives Counseling Services offers psychological, cognitive, and behavioral interventions in the treatment of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders depend on the cause, a cause our therapists and counselors will diagnosis and treat. If grades are failing, attitudes and personalities are changing, irritability and mood swings are raging, and 6:00 a.m. is a dreaded hour, we can help. We offer individual, couples, family, group, and video sessions. Live the life you and your child were meant to live. Call us.