Patients, parents, and diabetes health care providers all play a role in ensuring children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) get adequate sleep, said Stacey Simon, PhD, sleep psychologist and associate professor, University of Colorado Denver, Children's Hospital Colorado.
Stacey Simon, PhD, sleep psychologist and associate professor, University of Colorado Denver, Children's Hospital Colorado, explains how children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are impacted differently by a lack of sleep than the general population, and what steps can be taken to improve sleep.
How does lack of sleep affect a child with T1D differently than a child without T1D?
Not getting enough sleep definitely impacts all of us. I think anyone who's had a bad night of sleep knows how we feel so grumpy and groggy the next day, so insufficient sleep can definitely impact our mood, emotion regulation, our attention level. That's the case for everyone, but then, particularly for patients with type 1 diabetes, not getting enough sleep may also impact their ability to just adhere to all of the treatment regimen that they have to do—all the things that they need to think about and take care of—for their health the next day. So it could kind of have additive consequences.
What can parents, doctors, and children themselves do to ensure they're getting enough high quality sleep?
I think first is really just prioritizing sleep. Trying to schedule enough time in bed at night to allow them to get the number of hours of sleep recommended for their age is really helpful. Scheduling consistent bed and wake times, even on weekends and summer vacation, is really helpful as well to set the body's internal clock. And then establishing a consistent evening routine, something to help them wind down, relax before bed. That definitely includes putting down electronic devices and shutting those off. And then I think that it's important for diabetes health care providers to also be asking patients about sleep. I think that this is maybe not something that's standard practice yet, but could really elucidate some helpful information and then allow the providers to help their patients have healthier sleep.
Children don't always recognize the importance of good sleep, so I think hearing that message consistently from parents, from their health care providers, and having everyone kind of work collaboratively together, can be helpful to help them to have those good sleep habits.