July 10, 2020

Surprising Cause of Tiredness in Children

Tired child

Wakeful nights, difficult naps, drastic mood swings…this is a picture of a tired child (or adult ;-)). You may be seeing a lot of this after the 4th of July.

A lot of what happens during festivities such as the 4th of July are later bedtimes. What is wrong with a later bedtime? Isn’t a total number of daily sleep all that matters when it comes to sleep?

In my experience and what I have learned through research, the total number of hours of sleep isn’t everything. The timing of sleep is just as important as the total hours of sleep.

As much as we all wish these times could stretch as our lifestyle does, the body is not designed that way.

If we stretch anyone’s sleep time too much, our bodies call on our adrenals to help keep us awake past our optimal sleep times. What is wrong with this?

When our bodies pump our bodies with extra adrenaline to keep us awake, it causes our sleep to become less restorative and more disrupted. This excess adrenaline also signals to the brain that we need to be on high alert for possible threats or avoid any other potential energy drain.

What our children’s brains interpret as threats when they are in this high alert state can be as simple as being asked to do something they don’t have the energy to do, experiencing a new environment, bright lights, loud sounds, an angry look 1

When our children or we are in this state of high alert, the best thing to do is to calm our nervous systems. In my experience, this doesn’t happen overnight; this is a gradual healing process. It’s a process of enforcing to the brain and the body that it’s okay to bring it’s guard down and balance out adrenal levels again.

This calming of the nervous system is done by honoring body rhythms related to sleep and feeding times, consistent resting periods throughout the day, the empathetic response when children become overwhelmed, sufficient nutrition, and hydration.

When enforcing to the body and brain that it is safe, you will see the body releasing stress it had been holding on to stay alert, and on guard, it takes days for the body to trust that all is well again.

So hang in there, even if you feel like this wave of stress and tiredness will never pass. If you feel like your child is never truly in a state of a calmed nervous system and are chronically experiencing disrupted sleep, please reach out. I offer a free 15 min consultation to help you know if my approach to promoting good sleep from a whole-child perspective is right for your family. Please text me at 406-595-6972 to schedule a consultation. 🙂

  1. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/316404/self-reg-by-dr-stuart-shanker/

Myra Hartzheim

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