There’s hardly anything a parent wouldn’t do to make sure his or her kids get much-needed shut-eye -- from endless readings of that tattered children’s book (you know, the one you memorized every word to long ago) to cutting the crust off their PB&Js when they’ve demanded a bedtime snack.
Unfortunately, your child’s sleep may not always be as pleasant and restful as you might think. Seemingly harmless snoring or tossing and turning might point to an underlying issue affecting the quality of your young one’s Zs. But fortunately, parents can do a lot to ensure their child is safe and slumbering. We bunked up with Sleep IQ Kids and their new bed to highlight some common causes of poor sleep and offer simple solutions so your kids, and you, can rest easy.
1. Watch Out For That Fruit Punch!
Pineapples and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as juices made from them, are acidic, which can irritate sensitive bladders. While that slight irritation poses no health risks, it may be forcing your little one to go to the bathroom during the night, possibly multiple times. Your little one's favorite fruits and juices are best consumed earlier in the day.
2. No Sparky In The Bedroom
Sparky is fun to play with, and Simba is oh-so-comfy to cuddle up with on the pillow, but if you want your child to get the required amount of sleep, keep the pets out of the bedroom. Donielle Wilson, a naturopathic doctor who sees many insomnia patients and is working on a book about natural solutions for sleep, says that pets wake up their owners too often. Even little critters like hamsters can get noisy enough to interrupt a kid’s sleep, so Wilson recommends that cages don’t stay in the room, either.
3. Beware Of Dust Mites
If your child coughs or sneezes while asleep, or after wrapping herself in her comfy blanket, she may be allergic to dust mites, the tiny microscopic creatures found in just about every home on Earth. Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites live in pillows, comforters and couches. While the mites are harmless to humans directly, they secrete a protein that can irritate our respiratory system. A simple blood test will reveal if your child is allergic. Dust mites feast on feathers, dust and the skin particles that humans shed, and they like warmth and dampness. To minimize allergies, wash bedding frequently, avoid feather or down blankets and keep rooms dry and dust-free.
4. Kids Need Routines, Too!
Kids are creatures of habit -- both psychologically and physiologically. They do better with well-established schedules around homework time, dinner time and getting-ready-for-bed time. Create a bedtime routine that eliminates energizing activities and promotes calm and relaxation, such as reading or putting toys away, says Shalini Paruthi, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and director of the Pediatric Sleep and Research Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. Make the bedtime routine part of a play: have your little ones prep their own toys for nighttime rest, including dolls, stuffed animals or cars. If Barbie or McQueen have to go to bed every night, it’s only logical that their owners do the same thing!
5. The Medication Did It
Some cold and allergy medicines and antihistamines can interfere with your child’s sleep because they may have a stimulating effect. Certain antibiotics like Cipro can cause nightmares, which may affect the quality of sleep, causing your little one to turn, toss or cry out. These drugs are usually taken only temporarily, but medications for certain conditions have to be taken long-term, which may present a problem. For example, ADHD drugs also can have stimulating effects, interfering with the child’s ability to doze off or snooze through the night, says Paruthi. In some cases treating ADHD symptoms by adjusting the child’s nutritional needs through diet and vitamins including iron can reduce the symptoms, lessening or even eliminating the need for sleep-affecting medication, Paruthi says. Different kids have different reactions to meds, so in general when your child starts a new drug, it’s a good idea to monitor his or her sleep.
6. My, What Big Tonsils You Have!
Affecting about one in 50 kids, obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the airways are blocked by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, a type of nasal tissue. Does your kid’s snoring sound more like an adorable lion’s than a human’s? Or does he have labored breathing and restless sleeping? His tonsils may be the culprit. This condition is most common in children ages 3 to 7, and many eventually outgrow it. In some cases, though, children may have to wear a nose mask at night. If the issue is very severe, surgical removal of the adenoids and tonsils may be prescribed.
7. Too. Much. SpongeBob.
As cute as our kids might look while deftly swiping our tablets and smartphones, putting us to shame with their digital savvy, such light-emitting devices also decrease the production of sleep-promoting melatonin. That messes up the body’s internal clock and may keep our little ones awake longer. No matter how much your kid loves his “Clash of Clans” video game, consider restricting play an hour before the lights go out. Experts, like Craig Canapari of the Yale School of Medicine’s Sleep Clinic, suggest avoiding playing, reading or doing homework on electronic devices too close to bedtime. Luckily, timeless children’s classics like Harry Potter are still available on the oldest of old-fashioned media, paper.
8. Going Gaga For Gluten
If your little one is gluten-sensitive or intolerant, consuming it could be robbing her of sleep. The latest studies have found that many celiac patients complain about insomnia. The exact reasons for that are still being studied, with theories including food malabsorption, nutritional imbalance, immune system inflammatory response and vitamin B12 deficiencies, which gluten-sensitive patients are prone to, says Dr. Wilson. Compared with adults, who often have a delayed response to gluten, children are usually affected much quicker.
9. The Happiest Fix Of All: More Quality Time
In a recent study, researchers showed that when parents are able to spend more time with their families, their children’s sleep improves. Simple as that.
Sleep Number is committed to helping families get their best sleep. Sleep Number understands that well-rested kids feel more confident and do better in school, sports and in life. Learn more about the SleepIQ Kids™ bed, the only bed that grows with them, here.