Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Tuesday, 19.04.2016

Children are getting lesser sleep these days, according to a recent study by Nanyang Technological University undergraduates and the National University Hospital (NUH). The study polled 307 respondents, comprising parents with children from 6 to 9 years old. It is found that about four out of 10 primary school children aged six to nine are not getting enough sleep. These children felt sleepy during the day, which the study said is a sign of sleep deprivation. 

Dr Mark Ignatius shares some some insight on why sleep is much needed for children, and should not be taken lightly. 

Why is having enough sleep important for growing kids? 

A large proportion of growth hormone secretion is during sleep and most of it during deep sleep. Disruption of sleep will affect growth hormone secretion and hence may affect the physical growth in a child. 

How much sleep should kids of different age ranges need?

Sleep needs vary among individuals even of the same age. However there is a trend for higher sleep requirements in the newborn and this decrease as the child ages, till adulthood when the sleep needs become relatively stable.

Toddlers need about 12 - 13 hours of sleep, preschoolers about 11 - 12 hours, 10 - 11 in school going children, and 9 - 9.5 hours in adolescents.

What are some symptoms to show that Junior is not having enough sleep? 

  1. Hyperactivity from sleep deprivation from any cause. 

  2. Snoring due to obstructive sleep apnoea. obstructive sleep apnoea is due to a combination of several causes that result in narrowing of the upper airway and/or increased tissue laxity of the upper airway walls. This causes collapse and obstruction of the airway during sleep which causes snoring and disruption of sleep architecture

  3. Cardiovascular complications may also occur in severe cases. It does not neccessarily go away with age. Some sleep disorders may have a genetic link as part of the multifactorial cause of the condition, like Narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnoea, fatal familial insomnia is uncommon but is a condition that is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.

For a child who is struggling to get enough sleep on school week days, would catching up on sleep over the weekend be helpful at all? 

Catching up on sleep during the weekend will help to restore the sleep debt accumulated during the week but will not help the child during the week when the child is sleep deprived.

In Singapore, kids spend a lot of time on TV as well as gadgets like iPad, iPhone and computer games. How do these affect a child's sleep, especially if he uses these gadgets before bedtime?  

Activities that are alerting and increase wakefulness can interfere with sleep onset and sleep maintenance. Exposure to bright lights (from any source) before bed can also affect sleep onset by delaying the circadian rhythm.

"Electronic gadgets per se do not have an adverse effect on sleep. If these devices can be used to relax the mind (like watching movies, listening to music or reading an electronic book) they may actually be helpful for sleep. " ~ Dr Ignatius Mark Hon Wah 

Your "Body Clock & Sleep" Circadian Rhythm 

(Image: Wikipedia)

Dr Ignatius Mark Hon Wah 

Ear Nose Throat Surgeon, Ascent Ear Nose Throat Specialist Group, Mount Alvernia Hospital, Medical Centre D, Unit 08-63.

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