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Local doctor seeing increasing sleep problems among kids during the pandemic; how parents can help

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 8:45 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A local doctor is seeing an increase in sleep problems among kids during the pandemic.

Dr. Antoinette Burns of Children’s Hospital Colorado has noticed the pandemic’s impact on many daily routines, including consistent sleep schedules that kids need. She says a lot of it has to do the lack of structure in our days.

“It’s definitely important that children have structure to help with their sleep and good sleep is absolutely essential for mental health. We know that they are intimately connected, they’re intertwined,” said Burns.

When children don’t get enough sleep, experts say they could have trouble regulating their emotions, may struggle to learn in school or have difficulty focusing. The Children’s Hospital says 20% of all children suffer from some type of sleeping problem, and the causes range from poor sleep habits and behavioral problems to underlying medical conditions.

When it comes to younger children, some difficulties doctors are seeing include making sure they get their sleep throughout the course of the day, including naps.

In older children, the Children’s Hospital focuses on the regularity of sleep. That includes not just the sleep time, but also making sure they have a regular schedule with consistency.

Parents should look for excessive sleepiness throughout the day, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as snoring or trouble breathing during sleep from their children.

“One of the most important roles of a parent is to serve as a good role model and to really prioritize sleep as an important part, an essential part of good health,” said Burns.

Experts say it’s crucial for children to develop the ability to fall asleep on their own.

“While a lot of parents really want to spend that time in the bed with their child as they’re falling asleep, we know that that can potentially be detrimental for a child that wakes up in the middle of the night and then may want the parent to come back in the room to help them fall asleep again,” said Burns.

The Children’s Hospital said sleep problems can occur at any age, but when they occur in toddlers, children or young adults, they can have a big impact on the entire family’s health.

Dr. Burns and the Children’s Hospital are hosting a World Sleep Day virtual talk to discuss the importance of sleep for all stages of life. The presentation will cover recommended sleep times, common sleep concerns, when to seek professional help and much more.

The virtual talk is Friday from 12pm-1pm. To reserve your spot, click here.

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