As a child sleep consultant, I see all sorts of sleep situations. From night terrors, to just needing a nap in the right place and time. Each one so unique and each one holds a special place in my heart. The reason I became a certified sleep consultant was so that I could share with parents the knowledge and tools to avoid overtiredness (yes, I made that a word) in children as I had once experienced with my own daughter.
We use this term “overtired” a lot. What I am most concerned about is when a child is so overtired they are unable to sleep due to the high levels of cortisol in their body. Parents seem to have a misconception of how being overtired can really affect their child. If you’re child is constantly up too late or missing naps they will develop sleep debt. It sounds harsh but it really is, sleep deprivation is no joke.
Why do I consider sleep deprivation to be the root of all evil?
• Difficult to wake in the morning
• Difficulty concentrating or focusing during play
• Taking long, or excessive naps
• Defiant or contrary behavior
• Difficulty falling asleep (overtired)
• Falling asleep as soon as they hit the pillow (sleep should take about 20 minutes for a healthy sleeper)
• Increased appetite
• Accident prone, or clumsy
• Excessive talking (more questions than normal or frenzied conversation)
Oh wait, Im not done…who wants constant meltdowns, tantrums, refusal to eat, clingy stuck to your leg as you walk kids? Early wakings, frequent and long night wakings, clawing/scratching (my baby used to do this, I thought she hated me), short or broken naps, symptoms similar to ADHD, hallucinations, tremors…NOT ME!
There are so many more behaviors that can show up from being overtired and one big one I hear a lot is that the child has irrational behavior. My little brother had this and looking back I see he was chronically sleep deprived. He would want something then instantly not want it, and was such an angry child. It was SO frustrating as a sibling but now I see why he had such a terrible outlook on life, he was SO tired. Unfortunately, a chronically overtired child can not be sleep trained. It just wont work, you have to bring back sleep so that they are not on crazy cortisol highs and are able to actually fall asleep.
Did you know that 1 in 3 children show signs of sleep deprivation? But only 1 in 10 parents are aware of it.
Some overtired children may not behave how you would expect. They may be extra happy and/or in a hyper excited state and parents may not even notice the signs of being tired because their little bodies are running on adrenaline. In addition to not understanding the effects of sleep deprivation parents need to realize it takes a very long time to undo sleep debt. If you are working towards healthier sleep habits be patient and do not give up. You will have one great night followed with a few really crappy nights, but I can assure you that with consistency, wine, chocolate, and some prayers to your higher power this will get better. Stick with it, stay home for a few weeks so that your naps can be on time, missing that sleep window is so detrimental. This is your child’s health we’re talking about, take it seriously and think about the big pay off at the end…sleep and lots of it! Life becomes easier, your child will be happier, less tantrums, better eating habits, more snuggles. That right there makes all of the hard work, so worth it.
If you need help getting through this rough patch and back on track please contact
Nicole today at email@example.com