The Dark Side of Child Sleeplessness

Every child is different. Some children learn to crawl early, some later. Some children talk sooner than others. Some children just need more sleep than others. Some babies sleep through the night sooner than other babies. These different milestones and characteristics are part of what makes each baby unique and has a lot to do with their own unique personalities, health and even genetic makeup.

One of the biggest concerns that some parents have is whether their baby is getting enough sleep at night. To be sure, this is something worth being concerned about. Here are some of the things that recent studies on infant and child sleep have told us:

Children who don’t sleep enough may be at risk for a variety of health problems later on in life.

Infants that sleep less than 12 hours per day (including nap time, of course) are as much as twice as likely as their peers to be overweight by the age of 3. This increases their likelihood of being obese in childhood.

Children between the ages of 4 and 16 who tend to sleep less than 10 hours a night experience some difficulties, as well. They tend to be prone to anxiety, depression and aggression later on in life.

Now, it’s important to note a couple of things. The results of these studies are still relatively new, and while the body of research is growing, it isn’t expansive. You also need to go back to the idea of individuality and remember that every baby is different, and so some kids wont’ experience the negative effects associated with getting less sleep.

Still, if you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep habits, talk to your pediatrician. Depending on the specifics of your situation, your doctor may want to send you to a pediatric sleep specialist, or other physician. It could be that your baby is suffering from sleep apnea or some other condition that could interfere with his ability to sleep at night.