Fortunately there are some great books to help you parents help your children learn to sleep well, such as:
- Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth
- Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
- Sleeping Through the Night by Jody Mindell
Whatever method you choose, just remember that when it’s nighttime, your child’s need for sleep outweighs his or her need for anything else.
If you want a child with a happier, healthier and literally smarter brain, help them get more sleep.
Young children who get even one more hour of sleep per day score significantly higher on tests of intelligence.
It’s not just the preschool years that you have to focus on when it comes to sleep. Adolescence is famously problematic. We can all think of an adolescent we know of who stays up way too late, and seems to sleep all weekend.
Adolescence and Risk
Adolescence is a high risk time for developing health problems and particularly mental health problems. At least 50% of all adult mental health disorders start in adolescence, the most common among them being mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. (Some data report that about 73% of youth with depression also have sleeping problems. Lack of sleep has been shown to be causally related to depression.)
Adolescents are not only faced with a multiplicity of changes in their social, developmental, academic and vocational lives, but they are faced with a biologically-driven sleep pattern that urges them to both stay up later and sleep later in the day as their circadian rhythm changes, making it much more difficult for them to go to sleep “on time” and to wake up “on time”.
This physiological change happens at the same time adolescents want increased levels of independence. Although it is difficult to help adolescents see the wisdom in sleeping well and in good nutrition, it is so worth it. Poor sleep and poor nutrition combined act synergistically to create many more problems than either would separately.