Another Good Reason to Get Enough Sleep

by Sarah Smith

Another Good Reason to Get Enough Sleep

We’ve all seen hyper kids who exhibit these behaviors:

  • can’t sit still

  • have trouble focusing

  • get frustrated easily

  • act aggressively

    It’s easy to assume they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but some children with such symptoms may just be sleep-deprived. While adults typically feel lethargic when they’ve lost shut-eye, kids often become antsy and jumpy, says Judith Owens, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in Providence.

    Of course, if you’re concerned that your child has ADHD, you should discuss it with your pediatrician. But it’s worth it to work on building good sleep habits too. For some kids, snoozing longer and better may make symptoms disappear; for children with true ADHD, it may lessen the severity of symptoms, studies show. To help your child sleep tight whether she’s hyper or not:

    Stick to a regular bedtime and routine, such as a bath and a book.

    Limit caffeine — from hot cocoa, chocolate candy, soda  — within six hours of your child’s bedtime.

    Get her moving during the day. She’ll likely be sleepier at night.

    Remember how much sleep children really need: 12 to 15 hours for babies; 11 to 12 for toddlers; 10 to 11 for school-age kids.