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The importance of sleep for kids and teens is a widely researched topic. Good sleep habits promote healthy development during the formative and adolescent years. Sleep programs find that sleeping like a well-slumbered baby is nice but sleeping like a fourteen-year-old boy on summer vacation has its merits too! Sleep not only allows the body to rest but children need this time for cognitive maturation. Perhaps now more than ever, their brains need digital downtime – away from all devices to recharge and develop.

In our own occupational therapy practice, we can attest to the fact that well-rested children are more engaged and responsive than kids who struggle to sleep. We’re excited to announce Sleep by Zier Institute, our new sleep program that dives into mindfulness exploration, sensory strategies, and emotion work to promote peaceful and productive sleep.

THIS article recently featured on CNN Health explores how sleep problems in infants and early childhood can be linked to the development of certain mental health disorders in adolescence, according to new JAMA Psychiatry research. Consistently irregular sleep patterns, frequently waking throughout the night, and childhood nightmares can be early markers of future developmental delays.

Further research suggests that compromised sleep is reflective of the body and mind internalizing and externalizing problems experienced during childhood and adolescence. Childhood sleep disorders have been shown to be predictive of an array of emotional and behavioral problems, including but not exclusive to depression, anxiety, ADHD, risk-taking, and aggressive behaviors.

“The biggest takeaway for parents is that sleep is part of self-regulation. We need to wake our brains up, and settle them back down. We need to handle fears and separation from our loved ones,” she said. “For this reason, sleep is usually much harder for children with self-regulation problems in early childhood — whether due to anxiety, early ADHD, sensory integration challenges, trauma or other developmental differences that may not rise to the level of a diagnostic label.”

As research between sleep and developmental psychopathology continues, researchers, sleep coaches. parents and therapists unanimously agree that consistent sleep habits are essential for growing children.