Children’s sleep issues in Australia are a bigger problem than originally thought. Sleep experts are warning that children's tantrums, hyperactivity and learning problems could simply mean they are too tired.
A study of 8400 Australian children conducted in 2013 found that one in three children have trouble falling asleep, or sleeping through the night. The study was conducted by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Australia’s leading institute on children’s health.
"Up to 40 per cent of parents report that their infants and young children experience sleep problems, which are in turn associated with increased child inattention, poorer social and emotional skills and poorer learning and memory formation.
"They are also of great concern to parents, and are associated with disruptions to employment and increased mental health problems.''
Lead author and researcher Dr John Quach said 20 per cent of children had trouble falling asleep at night, and 15 per cent had problems staying asleep. "Children who have sleep problems are more likely to have behavioural problems and poor concentration,'' he said.
"They're more likely to be disruptive in class and not be able to follow instructions … (and) to have poorer learning and language skills.''
Dr Quach said parents with children who woke during the night were likely to suffer more "stress and anxiety'' than parents whose children slept soundly.
He said primary school children need 10 or 11 hours' sleep each night.
"Parents should see sleep as a priority and they should have a consistent bedtime and a consistent routine,'' he said.
"The hour before bed should be a media-free time when children are reading or having a story told to them so they can wind down.''
Cara Benau, co-founder of Glow Dreaming, a leading Australian children’s sleep aid developer and manufacturer, said “on a daily basis we hear so many stories from parents desperately looking for answers. It’s not only for their children but for parents as well. The number of mothers and fathers who haven’t had a full night’s sleep in well over a year is simply staggering. Just think about the impact that would have on the family dynamic. Managing a family is challenging enough at the best of times but doing it under the constant weight of sleep deprivation can be debilitating”.
“We started researching sleep issues because of our own challenges and that’s why we understand what families are going through. This is also the reason we are happy to get so personally involved with each and every customer. There is nothing better than knowing you’re making a difference.
Ange a Glow Dreaming customer from Brisbane said, “I was in contact with Glow Dreaming from the moment the product arrived and they always responded within the hour. They helped me get set up and through the first few days simply by listening and caring. My daughter had been waking up every hour for close to a year and we were all struggling with the lack of sleep. The first few days were a struggle but on the fourth night my daughter only woke up once and we started celebrating. On the eighth night, after over a year we all got our first full night’s sleep. You have no idea how good that feels”.
“When we heard back from Ange that her daughter had slept through the night we had our own little celebration. You always have doubts at the back of your mind even after all the research and testing but we haven’t had a single return. That means we are really making a difference, which is exactly why we started Glow Dreaming in the first place”.
Turn your Glow Dreaming unit on 15 minutes before bed
The most important thing is a bedtime routine. Make sure you stick to it.
Ensure that the children go to bed at the same time every night. A strict bedtime is critical.
Try and limit screen time especially in the last few hours before bedtime. The light emitted by screens is so damaging to our sleep patterns.
If you as a parent want to get some much needed rest, make sure you teach your child to fall sleep without your presence.
ARE YOUR KIDS GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
Babies 15 hours (including daytime naps)
Toddlers up to 14 hours
Preschoolers 12-13 hours
Primary school kids 10-11 hours
Some of the comments and statistics from this article have been taken from a news.com.au article called Kids' sleep problems cost taxpayers $27m more in Medicare: Study