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Your Healthy Family: Recognizing sleep problem in your children, especially now

Posted at 3:38 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 17:38:07-04

COLORDO SPRINGS — It's Sleep Awareness Week (March 14-20, 2021) right now, and this Friday is World Sleep Day. Children's Hospital Colorado is hosting a free online virtual health talk with a pediatric sleep expert.

To sign up for Friday’s sleep talk with Dr. Antoinette Burns, you can sign up (HERE) (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/world-sleep-day-virtual-talk-tickets-143353613517 [nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com])

It’s a good week for everyone to think about sleep health, on the heels of the switch to daylight saving time last Sunday morning, when we lost an hour of sleep.

Dr. Antoinette Burns, DO is a pediatric sleep medicine expert, with Children’s Hospital Colorado, and is a new provider with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. “The thing to know about sleep is that it's not optional. Sleep is essential, it's a biological need we all have and we cannot go without it. From a sleep medicine perspective, we consider this (time change) to be relatively detrimental to our overall health because when we go into daylight saving time, we are not mirroring our normal circadian rhythm. Our bodies like to wake up with the sunrise and go to bed with the sunset.”

For World Sleep Day this Friday Dr. Burns explains, “This is a day that is celebrated throughout the world in all different countries and the United States. The theme this year is, Regular sleep - Healthy future. We are really trying to spread awareness that we all need to have good sleep, in order to have good health. Sleep is one of the pillars of health that we all need to focus on, making sure people are getting good quality and a good amount of sleep is one of the pillars of health just as important as exercise and good nutrition.”

So how do you know if sleep is a problem for your children? Dr. Burns explains, “Children need good sleep, so they can learn. If they're not getting good sleep they are not able to concentrate or focus. Kids also have difficulty regulating their emotions, so children can be more moody or irritable when they don't get enough sleep or good quality sleep. Sleep is also important for growth in children, that's one of their main jobs to grow and to develop. Interestingly during sleep is when we release growth hormone, that’s why it's extremely important that kids have that good sleep, so we release the hormone to allow children to grow.”

Like so many other health issues, Dr. Burns says the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified healthy sleep for kids of all ages. “We have definitely seen an impact on sleep as a result of the pandemic. Specifically, what I'm seeing in the clinic are a lot of teenagers who are having some difficulty switching back-and-forth between online learning and in person learning. When they're online oftentimes they're able to sleep a little longer which is natural for them because they're following their natural circadian rhythm. Then when they have to go in person they are often waking up earlier and therefore going without some sleep. The pandemic has also been very difficult on any child who has any sort of anxiety issues. The impact can be when they try to fall asleep, they can have a lot more difficulty letting go of some of those anxious thoughts and those emotions and keeping those from creeping into their sleep.”

If you are seeing some of these issues in your kids of any age, and want to learn more about how to help them out, you can sign up for a free sleep talk with Dr. Burns this Friday March 19th at noon. Dr. Burns says, “We will go into a lot of the details about things like how we can improve sleep and what are some tools that families can use to help their kids. We will also talk about how much sleep is important for different age ranges, and we will also talk about when it might be important to get an evaluation for a sleep problem. Children are impacted by sleep disorders just like adults, and it's important that if there is a suspicion that there is a sleep disorder then we want to make sure we're able to look into that. We will also talk about that on Friday.”

To sign up for Friday’s sleep talk with Dr. Antoinette Burns, you can sign up (HERE) (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/world-sleep-day-virtual-talk-tickets-143353613517 [eventbrite.com])

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