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Learning the Differences Between ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Because they have a number of overlapping symptoms, it can be easy to mistakenly believe that a child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) instead of a sleep disorder. However, while the two different maladies can sometimes be interrelated, they call for very different courses of treatment. Here’s a closer look at ADHD and a variety …

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How Can You Tell If Your Child Is Losing Sleep?

Has your child suddenly become more accident-prone?  Are they having problems concentrating or retaining new information? And are they finding it hard to fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning? If your child is exhibiting one or all of these symptoms on a regular basis, they may not be getting a good …

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Child Sleep Disorders – What Parents Need to Know

Bedtime is one of the most important times of the day for a child. Not only does sleep give children a chance to rest after the day’s many activities, but it also allows time for their brain to rest and absorb the material learned throughout the day. So, it comes as no surprise that child …

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How Lack of Sleep Affects Child Health

“Sleeping like a baby” has become a common term. However, not every child can get such restful or peaceful sleep. An estimated two-thirds of American children suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. Sleep is a cornerstone of every child’s development, and lack of sleep can cause serious problems with mental, physical and social development. …

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How to Get Your Kids to Sleep Well During Summer

Kids need their sleep. That goes without saying. But with the arrival of summer comes longer hours of sunlight. Kids are more inclined to want to stay awake and play. This can lead to a myriad of problems, ranging from sleep disorders, unhealthy habits, and even cardiovascular problems. Dr. Mayank Shukla, the sleep disorder doctor …

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Sleeping Disorders and Your Child’s Health

Adult Sleep Treatment Differs in Children As adults we have experienced some form of sleep disturbance at one point in our lifetime. We know that most of the blame ranges from fatigue, irritability and poor sleeping habits. However, our children and teens may be at an even greater risk for their health, as they may …

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Sleeping Better in Summertime Heat

If the hot summer temperatures and humidity are keeping you awake at night, well you are not alone. Summertime heat waves may have reached a plateau for now, as the average temperatures are currently sitting at 80 degrees, but the humidity is what troubles our patients the most. While every sleep doctor has their saying, …

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Can Extra Sleep Improve Your Teen’s Health?

Sufficient sleep is an important part of everyone’s health, even your teenagers. Teens have a busy lifestyle, some with a jam-packed schedule of school, social and extracurricular activities that overrules an adult’s usual day. What you don’t know about your child’s sleeping cycle can translate into their performance at school as well as other health …

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Regular Bedtime Linked to Better Learning, Less Behavioral Problems.

Do your kids get to bed at the same hour every night? Families are engaged in many different activities which can disrupt regular routines and get in the way of a consistent bedtime. A small minority of children sometimes or never to go sleep at a regular hour – but they pay the consequences the next day, research shows.

Kids need a regular bedtime in order to learn and function appropriately during the day. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, which followed more than 10,000 children in the United Kingdom, found that children without a regular bedtime by age seven tended to have more behavioral problems both at school and at home.

The study, led by Dr. Yvonne Kelly, epidemiologist at University College of London, England, used data from a long-term study of babies born in the UK from 2000-2002. Parents were regularly surveyed about their children’s sleep and behavioral problems. Close to 20% of parents of three-year-olds said their child sometimes or never went to bed at a consistent time. That number fell to 9% of five-year-olds and 8% of seven-year-olds.

Parents also filled out an assessment of behavioral problems, such as acting unhappy, getting into fights or being inconsiderate. The assessment was scored on a scale from 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating more behavior problems. Seven-year-olds without a regular bedtime rated an average of 8.5 on the behavior scale, compared to 6.3-6.9 for children who regularly were in bed before 9 p.m.

However, the good news is that these findings are reversible. When children with irregular bedtimes went to having a regular bedtime on the next survey, their behavior scores went up. This shows that when parents make small, positive changes to daily routines, they can strongly affect their child’s behavior.

Of course, there are many factors other than bedtime that affect a child’s mood and behavior. Still, a regular bedtime routine with stories, kisses and other nurturing activities ends off the child’s day on a calm, positive note and sets the stage for a productive following day. Parents need to realize the importance of making bedtime routines a priority, even with conflicting schedule demands. Think twice about going out for an evening activity if it means the children will be up well past their usual bedtime. Don’t overschedule your child with too many after school activities, and reserve the evening hours for calm, quiet family time.

A regular bedtime may is also important for the cognitive development of young children, researchers found.

Dr. Yvonne Kelly’s research team also found that girls — but not boys — who didn’t have a regular bedtime at age 7 had slightly but significantly lower scores for reading, math, and spatial abilities. The results, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that lack of a regular bedtime had a cumulative effect. Both boys and girls who never had a regular bedtime since age 3 had lower cognitive scores compared to children who always had regular bedtimes.

Not having a regular schedule for bedtime “could have important ramifications, as when sleep is restricted or disrupted symptoms that reflect a reduced capacity for plastic change [in the brain] and/or disrupted circadian rhythms follow, including cognitive impairment and lack of concentration,” the study authors wrote.

The study noted that “early child development has profound influences on health and well-being across the life course.” Therefore, when a child’s sleep is reduced or disrupted in the early years, especially at key points of development, it can have a significant impact on the child’s health throughout life.

Looking just at age 7, not having a regular bedtime was associated with significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.22), math (beta -0.26), and spatial abilities (beta -0.15) among girls in a fully adjusted model. There were no significant relationships among boys.

Not having a regular bedtime at age 3, however, was associated with lower cognitive scores at age 7 for both girls and boys: reading (beta -0.10 for girls and -0.20 for boys), math (beta -0.16 and -0.11), and spatial abilities (beta -0.13 and -0.16).

An irregular bedtime at age 5 was associated only with lower scores for reading among girls (beta -0.15) and for math among boys (beta -0.14).

Not going to bed at the same time each night at multiple ages was associated with even greater effects on cognition.

Among girls, those who did not have a regular bedtime at ages 3, 5, and 7 had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.36), math (beta -0.51), and spatial abilities (beta -0.40) at age 7.

And among boys, those who did not have a regular bedtime at any two of those ages had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.28), math (beta -0.22), and spatial abilities (beta -0.26) at age 7.

Inconsistent bedtime could be a symptom of an overall chaotic family life, and it is this, rather than the disrupted sleep itself, impacts a child’s cognitive development, the authors pointed out. However, the study authors found that inconsistent bedtimes were linked to impaired cognitive performance, even without other markers of a stressful family environment.

Those markers included parental employment, parental views of the amount of time spent with the child, attendance at a breakfast club or after-school club, any other childcare, whether the child was read to or told stories, TV time rules, whether there was more than one child in the bedroom, bed wetting, and the presence of a TV in the bedroom.

“Thus,” the researchers wrote, “our results suggest that having a regular bedtime is important alongside other aspects of family circumstances.”

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