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The over-tired child

More than just a product of too little sleep, over-tiredness is actually a real condition with a hormonal explanation.

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A very common, and the least recognized reason for sleep problems between the ages of 1-2 years is over-tiredness. Over-tiredness and its correction have a neural basis. Children in the throes of a meltdown are frequently described as suffering from being ‘over-tired’.

While this explanation is often accepted skeptically, over-tiredness actually is a real problem with a real physiological explanation behind it. When a person is deprived of sleep, the brain sends out a stress signal, which in turn releases adrenaline. This results in feeling very awake, even if our ability to function is deteriorating.

So What?

Understanding the neural basis for over-tiredness can help in its prevention, or in the worst-case scenario, minimization of its impact. For example, once a child reaches the point of over-tiredness, they are often more sensitive to stimulating activities/environments, making them even more “wired’, when they are actually in real need of rest.

Creating an especially quiet, tranquil environment can prompt the body to wind-down in preparation for sleep. Over-tired children may need your help to settle down, for example, counting in the dark together or telling a story in a dimly lit room. These gentle moments can provide a calm and soothing transition to a more restful state and eventually, sleep.

A note about the author:

Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips?  Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.

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