Australian pediatric sleep expert Dr. Chris Seton recently told the Sydney Morning-Herald that it is very possible to confuse symptoms of ADHD with the effects of sleep deprivation in children.
“A tired five-year-old and a five-year-old with ADHD can both act in the same way," he said. "There's probably a common pathway, but so far researchers have been unable to find what it is."
Last year the Sleep Education Blog reported that children respond to sleep loss in a different way than adults. Sleep-deprived adults tend to be sleepy and sluggish during the day. But sleep-deprived children are often hyperactive.
What could be keeping your child from getting enough sleep? Typically, a combination of biological, social and educational factors.
Recently the Sleep Education Blog reported that children and teens between 8 and 18 years old spend more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and using electronic devices like cell phones and computers.
Homework, extracurricular activities and time with friends also often cut into sleep time.
Sleep deprivation is linked with behavioral problems and mood disorders in children. Students who are not getting the sleep they need also tend to do worse in school.
How do parents know if their child is sleep deprived? Seton said that a child who can wake up in the morning without an alarm clock is probably getting enough sleep.
ADHD is a serious condition that affects a large number of children. And sleep deprivation is a common alternative explanation for a child’s misconduct. You may want to monitor your child’s sleep habits if you notice changes in his or her behavior.
The AASM recommends that school-aged children sleep between nine and 10 hours each night.
Parents should enforce bedtimes and a nightly routine to help their children get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Sleep experts also recommend keeping the TV and other electronics out of the bedroom.
Learn more about sleep and children. Get help for a sleep problem at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.
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