The Connection Between Sleep & Other Childhood Issues

In this article I will briefly and broadly map out the connection that I have found exists between sleep and other childhood issues.

In the process of putting together DreamChild Adventures in Sleep & Relaxation, I worked closely with the parents and caretakers of many children who struggled with sleeping problems as well as a variety of other psychologyical issues fairly typical among children and teens.

Sleep troubles included

  • Bedtime Resistance – not wanting to go to bed
  • Anxiety About Sleep – fearful about going to bed
  • Sleep Onset Delay – lying in bed awake
  • Nighttime Wakings – waking up in the middle of the night
  • Inadequate Sleep Duration – not getting enough sleep
  • Difficulty Awakening in the Morning – trouble getting up and out of bed in the mornings
  • Morning Moodiness – being moody, grumpy, grouchy, mouthy, etc. in the mornings
  • Daytime Sleepiness – tiredness, sluggishness, fatigue during the day

All of these sleep issues are age-appropriate for certain age groups and only become problematic when they persist beyond that appropriate age range or when they become so pronounced that they negatively impact the child’s ability to function normally and happily during the day.

Now it may not seem like such a broad leap to relate these above-named issues, if at least indirectly, to other sleep-related issues like the following

  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares/Night Terrors
  • Fear of the Dark

But it may come as a bit more shocking to learn that there are also appears to be a definite connection between these pervasive childhood sleep issues and a host of psychological issues commonly seen in children and teens but that, on the surface, appear to have no correlation whatsoever with sleep, for example

  • Childhood Obesity
  • Resistance to Reading/Poor Academic Performance
  • Television habits
  • Defiance
  • Self-Esteem

This was the astounding phenomenon that became apparent to me throughout the process of working with the parents and caretakers of these suffering children who bravely shared their transformative stories with the world in DreamChild Adventures in Sleep and Relaxation. For as we focused our efforts on helping the children to sleep better at night we found that as the children’s sleep improved, so did many of these other various psychological issues affecting them in their daily lives.

As amazing as this news seems, however, in hindsight it seems common-sense. The connection between stress and dis-ease (which includes psychological dis-ease) is nothing new for most people today. Nor is the link between relaxation and reduced stress. So why should we think it would be any different for children.?

This revelation – that sleep, like stress and anxiety, impacts a whole constellation of emotional and behavioral issues that children today face – should be a liberating and empowering relief to parents and caretakers of suffering children everywhere who find themselves helpless to affect any improvement in the psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues their children are facing. Because now we know that merely helping a child learn to relax and develop the ability to sleep better at night can automatically, in and of itself, help affect that long sought after change.

Related Features

  • Children's Sleep Hygiene Sleep hygiene refers to the set of habits and guidelines that promote consistently restful and sufficient sleep at night and complete alertness during the day. It's what you can do (and in some cases, not do) to help your child (and you, as a consequence) sleep easy and well. Like dental hygiene, sleep hygiene isn't just for children; it's for everyone, no matter the age. And like dental hygiene, instilling good sleep hygiene habits early on in life will promote the retention and sustaining of those good habits throughout one's lifetime.
  • Sleep Associations All childhood sleep experts address the importance of sleep association, the cardinal rule of which is this: All children should fall asleep under the same circumstances that they will experience when they awaken during the night.
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