Healthy Sleep Habits Promote Better Health and Wellbeing in Growing Children

MONTREAL, March 6, 2013 /CNW/ - For parents there is no greater concern than the health and wellbeing of their children. Raising a child is difficult enough without having to worry about rising childhood obesity rates and ADD diagnoses. What if there was something you could look for, or help your child obtain to keep them healthy, happy and growing in the right direction? Good news, there is. SLEEP!

Every year since the inception of World Sleep Day (WSD) on March 14, 2008 the Canadian Sleep Society (CSS) has worked in conjunction with the WSD committee and the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) with the aim of informing communities worldwide about the importance of sleep health and to lessen the instance of debilitating sleep problems/disorders. This year WSD will be held on March 15 (the Friday before the March equinox) and the slogan "good sleep, healthy aging" aims to promote just that, healthy aging for both children and adults.

Sleeping is a regenerative process for both the mind and body. It is essential to the physical and mental health of growing children and teens but too often in this hyper-connected world children are left without enough good quality sleep.

Overtired children behave very differently from overtired adults and this can lead to the miss diagnosis of other disorders. Children who are not sleeping enough often become hyper, their attention span is drastically shortened, they may have a hard time focusing in school and in very young children lack of sleep can lead to throwing tantrums which are rarely greeted with enthusiasm by parents.

The lack of focus and hyperactivity can be misinterpreted as a learning disorder or ADHD, the treatment for which is the stimulating drug Ritalin. If a child with a sleep problem or disorder is treated with Ritalin it will only worsen the problem and the resulting lack of sleep could cause obesity or even diabetes.

Furthermore, sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are more common in children then one might think and can further complicate metabolic problems which lead to obesity in children or may be the underlying cause of a neuropsychological disturbance. The good news is that these sleep problems and disorders, once identified, are easy to treat and manage, often with simple behavioural changes.

Help your child to follow these 10 commandments of good sleep hygiene to improve their sleep habits and if you think he or she has a sleep disorder seek out a specialist in your area, they could change your child's life, and yours.

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night, so as to allow your child to get enough sleep.
  2. Have and age-appropriate nap schedule for children up to the age of 4.
  3. Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
  4. Make your child's bedroom sleep conducive-cool, dark and quiet.
  5. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
  6. Avoid bright light at bedtime and during the night and increase light exposure in the morning
  7. Avoid heavy meals and vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
  8. Keep all electronics, including television, computers and cellphones, out of the bedroom and limit the use of electronics.
  9. Avoid caffeine.
  10. Keep regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.

Several events will be held online March 15, 2013 at www.worldsleepday.org.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Clinical Child Psychologist and Treasurer of the Canadian Sleep Society, Dr. Reut Gruber can be contacted via email; reut.gruber@douglas.mcgill.ca, or call; (514) 222.1779, (514) 761.6131 ext 3476

www.canadiansleepsociety.ca

SOURCE: Canadian Sleep Society

For further information:

President of CSS: shelly.weiss@sickkids.ca; info@canadiansleepsociety.ca

http://www.canadiansleepsociety.ca

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Canadian Sleep Society

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