Sunday, April 22, 2012

Children's behavior and Sleep- How they relate

Children's behavior can affect their sleep habits

Could your Child's behavioral problem be a sleep disorder!!

Author: Kathy Schenk

Could your Child's behavioral problem be a sleep disorder!!!!!

Sleeping pills are a controversial, and very addictive. Approximately fifteen percent of teenagers suffer from sleep disorders. This is a statistical measurement base on confirmed cases. Studies that have recently came out in order to understand the teenage brain, and when it is the most efficient in learning. Almost all teenagers stay up late. This is sometimes a sign of a sleep disorder, and then they have difficulty getting up in the morning. Introducing later start time in high schools will hopefully make high school years more successful and enjoyable. Getting the right medical help can be difficult. So many factors can be affecting your child's inability to get the required adequate quality sleep. Adhd, anxiety, depression, and many other disorders can contribute to a sleep disorder, and a sleep disorder can cause anxiety, depression, and inability to cope, and learn.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a sleep disorder in which the cycle of sleep and wakefulness in a person's 24-hour day is significantly delayed. As a result, the clock-dependent alerting mechanism in our brains that releases the hormones that give us energy gets activated a lot later at night than we may like it to. This is that person who complains about laying in bed awake till 2 or 3 in the morning.

This delayed sleep can make it very difficult to get up in the morning at the required time, if not impossible. When a sleep disorder starts showing up in a young child or even a baby it may be induced by a traumatic event, or in my scenario which may have been a lot of feedings through the night due to low birth weight. The feedings were prescribed by a doctor that I was to wake him up every 1.5 hours for feedings. Unfortunately, he continued on this routine till he was 22 months when I was up with him more than my new born. When I consulted with my family doctor, he assessed the situation as I had post-partum depression. Finally – when he was almost 17, a different family doctor decided to get him in for a sleep test. He would get up for school in the morning, after sleeping 4 or 5 hours, but was having many behavioral problems that sometimes look like he was bi-polar, and sometimes the hallucinations could be quite alarming. The worst of his behaviors was when he was 6 and he would charge at the wall to knock himself unconscious. Starting in December or January he would start having weekly suspensions from school due to his behavior. By the end of March he would be done for summer holidays. This was starting in grade 2, and he was lucky enough that school came to him easily, but unlucky in the way that his intelligence masked that there was something medically wrong. It gets to the point where he can't sleep for days, and then he just crashes for up to 24 hours. It is very sad to look back and think that there could have been a ways to make his life more tolerable. His behaviors would get extremely out of control, and psychotic. We went from Doctor to specialist and it was almost someone new every six months from the age of 6 to 17. He had totally given up on help. His sleep test results were that he woke up over a 100 times, getting to first phase sleep over and over, and only hit rem sleep for 12 minutes in the 3 and a half hours of his testing as he just woke up at that time.

My other son, who is now 15, has never been able to get out of bed. He would just like to stay there all day and night. Years of frustration just to get him out the door to school. Not as severe behavior problems, he just tried to sleep all the time!! I am not sure how, or when his sleep disorder started, but it may have been the anxiety of just getting to a babysitter so I could get to work. He was a great sleeper as a baby. His sleep test was about the same, except there was a longer sleep time. He woke 146 times, 12 of those wake up periods lasted 2 or more minute, but the rest where were 10 – 30 seconds in the 7 hour time.

There are some herbal remedies, natural supplements, and routine changes that can help.

Lavender is effective, and safe for babies. It is an essential oil that you can put a few drops on a Kleenex and tuck it under the child's pillow. Lavender is a common essential with relaxing and sedative effects. Other ways of using lavender with babies is in their bath water. This method has the sedative effects, while it helps to also heal and prevent diaper rashes, and other skin disorders such as eczema.

Valerian is a herb that can assist sleep as it seems to act like a sedative for the brain and the nervous system. Valerian is also useful for anxiety, depression, headaches, and migraines, and muscle and joint pain. This was useful with both of my boys, but not the answer. It is safe to use once in a while, when they were under twelve.

Melatonin is naturally produced by the brain when the sun goes down. Some teens get this out of wack because of puberty.

L- tryptophan seems to be the most useful of the supplements. This is the hormone that makes you sleepy when you eat turkey. This is used often in combination with the melatonin.

Light therapy can help by promoting the happy hormones also.

If you notice your child is having difficulty with falling asleep for long periods of time that is having an impact on their behavior, or getting up in the morning, it is time to get help. Prevention with medical intervention, counselling, and a diagnoses is the key factor. Don't let sleep deprivation run your family's life.

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About the Author

I am a mother of 5 teenagers which certainly has given me a lot of research to do in these times of increased stress. I have been a Registered Massage Therapist for 19 years which also requires more research as there is no such thing as a text book person. I am also an esthetician.

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