Sleep debt as defined by Wikipedia is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A large sleep debt may lead to mental and/or physical fatigue.
Sleep debt can be caused by partial sleep deprivation or total sleep deprivation. Among children as well sleep deprivation can cause very negative effects.
In infants parents often try to structure their child’s sleep patterns and nap times.
If parents try structuring sleep too much, it may result in depriving a child of a nap he or she seems to require, and that may result in fatigue, crankiness and irritability.
Such sleep deprivation has been seen to affect the hormone levels of children and far from giving the child sound sleep at night it can result in a disturbed and wakeful bed and night time routine.
There could be sleep pattern changes among older infants and particularly toddlers.
A lessening of the total number of hours of sleep required per day may mean that the child gives up one or more day time naps which may however cause disturbance. [baby sleep]
Also some time during the toddler years, a child will usually transition from a crib to a bigger cot or bed, which can further cause a disturbance. However this is the time that parents can do their best to lay the foundation of healthy sleeping habits that will stand a child in good stead later as well.
Toddlers and slightly older children routinely fight bed time, thinking up a variety of creative and not so creative excuses to stay up till a little later than their nap time.
Also many children about or over the age of 3 will start to give up their day time nap, which for some may be a good thing, however for some other children may mean some curtailment of total sleep required. If parents try to force a child to cut back on their day time nap there could be negative repercussions to this.
Research has shown that teens need more sleep than was hitherto thought necessary and that there is the need for them to get up to 9 or 10 hours of sleep daily.
Societal pressure and over scheduling of their time as well as too many distractions however, usually mean that teens do not get the amount of sleep that they need. One study of U.S. high school students found that 13% were chronically sleep-deprived.
So at each stage of a child’s life a parent needs to monitor whether their child is getting enough sleep or if there are any negative repercussions to a child not getting sleep or being sleep deprived.