Lack of Sleep in Children

By Alexandria M.

We’ve all seen how cranky and ornery little kids can be and we always assume they just need a nap. Well, we aren’t wrong. When children don’t get the proper amount of sleep, they tend to be negative in the way they view things. As an example, when a child doesn’t get what they want they’re gonna get upset, but if the child didn’t get the best amount of sleep the previous night, then the reaction that they give to that is going to be far worse than usual. Throughout childhood, waking up in the middle of the night and refusing to go to bed is more common than we know; about 15% to 30% of children experience these difficulties regularly and consequently have a lack of sleep. [1]

Sleep boosts children’s brain development and concentration. Studies have proven that children who take naps are more likely to remember what they’ve learned. Sleep is essential and most of us don’t get enough of it. Studies have also proven that children with higher IQ’s have better sleep routines. “Healthy sleep positively affects neurologic development and appears to be the right medicine for the prevention of many learning and behavioral problems.” Longer attention spans can be a good benefit for children of taking naps. Sleep deprivation can also affect memory. [2]

Lack of sleep can go even farther with problems in children, such as:

  • Fatigue: Being sore and achy in muscles
  • Dizziness or as they would say “fuzzy head” – also causing an upset stomach.
  • Being sad: Feeling down with no interest in daily activities.
  • Forgetfulness: Questioning the days’ events and having trouble remembering anything learned.

Nighttime difficulties are more common than we think. Children are getting enough sleep when they can easily go to sleep within 15 to 30 minutes after laying in bed. When it comes to lack of sleep, 10% of children in the United States have a sleep issue. Studies also done by The American Academy of Pediatrics show that the percentage increases by 50% to 75% if the child has mental health with neurological and/or developmental disorders. There are three common sleep problems in children: Sleepwalking, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS), and Bedtime Resistance. These are referred to as Dyssomnia which is a type of sleep disorder meaning difficulty falling or remaining asleep. [3]

How do we get kids ready for bedtime? You may ask. Well, there are some tips; here I have listed some useful ones:

  1. Lessen stress before bedtime. If the child’s cortisol levels are high, it will be more difficult for them to settle into bed.
  2. Create a sleep-encouraging environment. Encourage them to sleep with their stuffed animals and not their toys. Try and make sure their sleeping environment is as comfortable as it can be.
  3. Make sure the temperature is comfortable, not too hot and not too cold.
  4. Instead of telling them they need to go to sleep, make the focus more on calming down or recharging. If you tell them that it is time to sleep, that will induce anxiety, or have them feeling forced to go to sleep. Just like older kids, and adults, children also have trouble getting their brains to wind down.


[1]  Turnbull, Kathryn et al. “Behavioral Sleep Problems and their Potential Impact on Developing Executive Function in Children.” Sleep vol. 36,7 1077-1084. 1 Jul. 2013, doi:10.5665/sleep.2814

[2]     Breus, Michael J., Ph.D. “Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child”  WebMD Feature 3 June. 2003

[3]     Cleveland Clinic Medical Professional et al. “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) in Children and Adolescents”  15 May. 2013


BIO: My name is Alexandria and I am a homeschooled teen from Oklahoma (Tornado Alley). I have been homeschooled for the past seven years. I spend my days playing basketball, reading, writing and studying psychology, as well as, true crime. I am the oldest of four kids and I have three preposterous but loveable younger brothers. I plan to graduate college and pursue a career in a field that involves both computer science and criminal justice. One of my favorite quotes; “One of the deep secrets in life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” – Lewis Carroll

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