If you have not already done so, please read blog posts 1-5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
Blog Posts 99 and 100 describe studies that show how impaired sleep in children causes mental health concerns. To prevent mental health issues, start helping your child sleep well early. How early is early? Self-soothing can be taught to newborn babies (Blog Post 16). Baby sleep training can begin in young infants (Blog Posts 49 and 67). By starting early (Blog Posts 105–107), many adverse effects may be prevented, especially mental health concerns.
A 2020 study followed 4,500 younger children from birth to age 10-11 years. They were studied every other year. Mothers were asked: ‘How much is your child’s sleeping pattern or habits a problem for you? Mothers’ responses were:
A large problem
A moderate problem
A small problem
No problem at all
Not sure/don’t know
At 10-11 years of age, the mother and teacher reported on:
Internalizing concerns: many worries, often seems worried, often unhappy, downhearted, tearful.
Externalizing concerns: often loses temper, often fights with other children or bullies them, restless, overactive, cannot sit still for long.
Compared to those with no sleep problems, children with persistent high levels of sleep problems experienced greater internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
At 10-11 years of age, children with persistent low levels of sleep problems exhibited small psychosocial and academic impairments.
These results are similar to those described in Blog Post 57. For children who were followed for 8 years (between 6-14 years): A subgroup of children (20%) was identified as having persistent short sleep between 6-14 years. “Temperament negative affectivity and low parental emotional availability predicted membership to that group.”