As parents we think children come with unlimited amounts of energy at all times. But truth be told kids have energy because they get good quality sleep at night and during their naps. There is also some energy and behavior that we are going to talk about today that can be a sign of over tiredness and sleep deprivation. This is the behavior we want to be on the lookout for and make the necessary changes to help the child and parents out, and it might not be what you think. Instead of yawning and low energy, sleep debt in children is shown differently. Let’s talk about three behaviors to look for sleep deprivation in children.
3 Signs of Sleep Deprivation in children.
1. Wired energy.
If your child is running around like the energizer bunny, not listening, laughing hysterically, thinking everything is just a game. They are past their sleep window into overtired energy. Over tiredness comes in many forms, but the most common form seen in toddlers to elementary age is being wired or manic. You will most likely see this energy before naps, and before bedtime.
What can you do?
Move bedtime earlier. You want to catch them before they get to the overtired state. When you put them to bed in their sleep window they will be able to fall asleep easier and also get better quality sleep. Read all about baby wake windows here.
Hyperactive behavior during the day can mean many things, but taking a look at sleep first is always a good start. If a child is not getting the amount of sleep they need each night, or not getting good quality sleep, this can be seen in daily behavior. They can have trouble focusing, listening and following direction. They might also seem forgetful, impulsive, and moody. ADHD has been misdiagnosed at times because these symptoms coincide with sleep deprivation.
What can you do?
First make sure your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Work on quality sleep. Get them to bed and wake them up at the same time each day to strengthen their biological clock. This can take time so be patient! Keep an eye on their behavior as they start to get better sleep. Has it changed? Is it getting better or still the same? If sleep is not helping, talk to your pediatrician.
Kids do not know how to tell us that they are tired and should be sleeping. Their behavior speaks for them. While babies and toddlers are learning about emotions and how to control them, tantrums are still a sure fire sign of overtiredness. The “witching” hour can actually be helped with proper naps, and a reasonable bedtime. A big part of the witching hour is that EVERYONE is tired by that time of day. Most likely due to not prioritizing sleep for anyone in the household. Around 5pm is the most common time to start seeing meltdowns, but you will also see them close to nap time or if you have changed the child’s schedule or skipped a sleep session.
What can you do?
Prioritize consistent sleep for the child and yourself. Speaking from experience, it isn’t just the child melting down at 5pm it is also the parents. Read about 3 ways to fall asleep fast!
Sleep is not only so important for your children to grow, develop, and manage behavior is also just as important for the parents. You could have some of these sleep deprivation symptoms as an adult! Luckily they can all be reversed with some consistent sleep practice. Not sure where to start? Need sleep support for your family? Check out all of our customized programs here and contact us today.