Dear Dr. Wind: My daughter seems tired all the time. On weekends I think she’d sleep until Monday morning, or as long as we would let her. Is something wrong with her?
ANSWER: Many children I see - from age two to twenty - are tired a lot of the time. There are a variety of reasons for this. Let’s begin with the fact that today’s lifestyle does not encourage good sleep habits. In the first eighteen years of life, a child, on average, goes from sleeping 18 hours a day to eight hours a day. How quickly they shed those ten hours of sleep depends on the nature of the child and the schedule they have to keep. The important thing to note is that eight hours is the least your child should sleep each night, even if she is 18 years old.
I don’t encounter many teens who can fit eight hours sleep into a schedule of school, homework, sports, extracurricular activities, friendships and jobs. It is also rare that I see a ten-year-old child who gets ten hours sleep, etc.
If your child is tired the first thing to consider is the amount of sleep she averages daily. If it isn’t enough, set down together and rearrange her schedule to accommodate sufficient time to sleep. Lack of sleep can affect intelligence, creativity and mood as well as energy.
If you child is averaging enough sleep for her age next examine the quality of the sleep. A common cause of poor quality sleep is the plethora of electronic equipment found in bedrooms. Computers, televisions, gaming equipment, DVD players all emit, sounds, noises, lights and electromagnetic frequencies that can interfere with sleep. If your child’s room is a technological wonderland, consider plugging everything into a strip you can turn off at night.
More advice to follow in the next part-two blog!