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Tiredness and lack of sleep


Woman sleeping. Photo: Huffington Post

When your child does not sleep enough, he will be too tired. But tiredness in children becomes a cause to worry about because you may erroneously think that the child is seriously ill. You may also think that a serious health condition is involved. If you check below, you will see when your child may simply be tired; the simple cause being that he has not been sleeping enough. If you can identify the cause of his being worn-out, you may be able to solve the problem yourself instead of seeking medical opinion. Below, experts have worked out the right amount of sleep the average child in each age groups need, when you have tried their recommendation and it does not help, you then know that your child does need help indeed.

Three To Five Years
Experts posit that they should sleep for at least 12 hours a day. But some children may be quite refreshed with only 11 hours of sleep. You may have been allowing him to run around most of the day, but the time to enforce the number of hours he spends on his bed is when he complains at night- time that his legs are paining him. It also time to take action when he falls asleep the moment he sits down or enters the car or bus taking him back home from school.

Address this seriously if he clings to a toy; he wants comfort but he would best get it if he is resting on his bed.


What takes away precious sleep in children of this category is their not sleeping in the afternoon, which is very important for children this young. But it should not be a surprise that children cannot sleep properly in the afternoon. With your tight schedule; working long hours in the office; taking baby to a crowded market place or shop, the old time practice of adequate siesta for children may be difficult to manage.

Another cause of lack of sleep for the very young is their having to join other family members to spend time together. When mummy and daddy come home late they have to stay beyond their bedtime. Quality time like eating together or playing around while the whole family relaxes together at bedtime may create memorable times but they rob the very young of precious sleep.

To make them sleep, make day-time sleep important, even when the child does not sleep, put him on his bed and stay there to make sure that he does not leave the room to play. Plan family time for mornings and weekends.

Reduce the time you spend on bedtime rituals like giving them their nightly bath, reading and all discussions before bed to not more than 20 minutes.

Six to Eight Years
This is the time most children would start school. Still they need to sleep a minimum of 11 hours a day. Their tiredness and lack of sleep show by their lack of concentration or poor performance in school. They may become hyperactive; the ones who do not sleep enough are those who could be interpreted to have emotional disorders. What have been seen to cause tiredness among children in this age grade particularly are too many after school activities, too much TV and playing video games just before they go to bed. Staying up to read beyond their bedtime is another cause.

Induce sleep by cutting down on after-school activities and removing TV from children’s room. Ban them from playing video games and reading after bedtime.

Nine to Twelve Years
They need up to 10 hours of sleep daily. What have been identified as making them unable to sleep are their taking caffeinated drinks within four hours of bedtime. They are children who most likely will spend time away from home and on their own beds in sleepovers at their friends’ places. These ‘bigger boys’ are the ones who would most likely study well beyond their bedtime; sometimes forced to do so by no other but you mummy because you were furious to discover so late that school’s homework is not done; so you insist that he does it before he sleeps.


In our own environment, some of these ‘big boys’ are already experts in street-trading, house-to- house hawking of goods; a job they start immediately they come back from school. If they are not already a family’s sole breadwinners, they are major contributors to the family’s income. The daily recommended sleep is between nine and 10 hours.

A mother should be able to tell that her boy is lacking enough sleep because he is surly or listless. He will complain of headache towards evening and he may be accident-prone as well.

Help him to sleep by stopping the consumption of drinks that contain caffeine from late afternoon. Reduce the time spent at sleepovers to the occasional weekends. Help them to plan the time they should study so they have enough time to sleep. Child labour should be discouraged; if they cannot sleep enough, it would be difficult to make them function as real human beings.


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