ARE YOUR CHILDREN SLEEPING LIKE A BABY?
Healthy sleep habits for kids’ development
Sleep plays an important factor in children’s growth and development. But recent worldwide studies show a rise in breathing problems, migraines and chronic facial pain among children, all related to sleep disorders.
In the UAE, babies in prams and tots running around malls late at night are a common sight. Consultant neuropsychiatrist and medical director at The London Sleep Centre Dubai, Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, says that though there aren’t exact statistics yet in the UAE, it is estimated 50 per cent of children here are not getting the right amount of shut-eye.
He says: “There are some worrying trends we have noticed - young children awake and getting stimulated by the mall experience; parents not being disciplined with sleep and wake times; and letting their children use electronic devices one hour before bedtime.”
He explains that during deep sleep growth, hormone secretion is at its highest. At this stage of sleep, there are factors actively involved in development of the brain and body. Hence, a reduction in sleep can stunt development.
“Decreased quantity and poor quality sleep can result in inattention, distractibility, daytime fatigue, poor concentration and mood problems in children,” he continues.
More worryingly, lack of sleep at a young age can also affect them as adults: “Long-term sleep problems can lead to adult depression, anxiety disorders and problems with attention, memory and concentration.”
Dr Ebrahim says children’s sleep patterns today are mostly disrupted by too much tech time.
“The single most important factor today is the over and inappropriate use of electronic hand-held devices like smartphones and iPads,” he says.
“The second factor is an unhealthy diet that results in obesity and conditions such as sleep apnoea - a condition that causes the throat or upper airway to collapse, preventing oxygen from going through the lungs and causing shallow breathing or breathing pauses - diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.”
Dr Ebrahim advises parents to manage their children’s sleep habits early. “Children take their lead from the parents - if they are not disciplined about routine at home, it is not surprising the children will follow and have poor sleep routine as well.”
LIKE A BABY: A study published in Middle East Current Psychiatry found 33.6 per cent of 146 children studied aged four to 12 have sleep related disorders. See londonsleepcentre.ae