Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule for a child or adolescent is part of a solid foundation for every family’s well-being. For children or adolescents with a mental or behavioral health diagnosis, sleep is especially vital. Physicians at Nationwide Children’s Hospital say they notice several changes in sleeping patterns around daylight savings time, which can particularly affect patients with a mental health diagnosis.
“Sleep is a more complicated issue for patients with a mental health disorder,” says Robert Kowatch, MD, Ph.D, child and adolescent psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Nationwide Children’s. “Different conditions affect sleep differently, as do various medications for these conditions and their related side effects. These patients may be more sensitive to time changes than the typical child or teen.”
“With many medications, an impact on sleep is a possible side effect, from interfering with falling asleep to resulting in next-day drowsiness,” said Dr. Kowatch, also a professor of psychiatry at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Parents and patients should create a plan with their clinician, and make sure dose schedules and amounts are properly followed, such as taking a longer-lasting dose earlier in the day followed by a shorter-lasting dose later in the day, so a stimulant can wear off – if necessary – in time for bed to allow for restful sleep.”
Recommendations for better quality sleep are the same across age groups, regardless of whether a child or teen has a mental health disorder or not. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Big Lots Behavioral Health experts suggest:
Kids don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, so it’s time to give them a voice. For more information about children’s mental health and to help break to break the silence and stigma around mental illness, visit OnOurSleeves.org.
If you or your child need immediate help due to having suicidal thoughts, go to your local emergency room immediately, call the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.