Think those snores coming from your kid's room mean he's sleeping soundly? Think again. “If your child has a cold, then a little noise once in a while is OK. But if it's loud and constant, the body is forced to wake, leaving kids poorly rested,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. And the stakes are higher than just a case of the a.m. crankies. A recent study found that kids who snore, have apnea, or mouth-breathe are much more likely to have social and emotional problems as well as behavioral issues like aggression and difficulty getting along with their peers.
A respiratory-related sleep disorder, which can be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids or by obesity, may also be misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Tired kids become restless, impulsive, and stubborn, and they may have trouble focusing at school—all ADHD symptoms. And while it's tempting to let your kid stay up so you can spend more time together, “it's better to wake up earlier in the morning and bond over breakfast,” says Dr. Owens.
Getting enough rest is critical to the developing brain. You know the drill: Power down the TV and anything with a screen at least an hour before bed, then relax with a bath and a story. And most of all, keep the tuck-in times consistent.