School starts earlier in the day. School starts younger in life. Activities after school and on weekends, along with homework, often mean that sleep is sacrificed. Busyness and a lack of the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep may leave your child tired. But tired or sleepy is usually easily fixed with a nap or an earlier bedtime.
But what if sleep or activities are adjusted and your child continues to be constantly tired? It may actually be fatigue! Fatigue itself is not a disease or condition, but rather a symptom that could point to a number of other issues.
Talk to your Child’s Doctor
If your child experiences abnormally low energy or chronic tiredness for more than two weeks (and you’ve made adjustments), set up an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Other factors may be at play. Be prepared to discuss when the fatigue began and if anything changed that may have precipitated it. Note changes you’ve implemented to try and mitigate the symptoms.
Hopefully, the visit with the physician will lead to understanding what is contributing to the fatigue in your kid. The following may be a few possibilities.
#1 Sleep Disorders
Getting enough sleep is important. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following amounts of sleep per 24 hour period, including naps:
- Ages 3-5: 10 to 13 hours of sleep
- Ages 6-12: 9 to 12 hours of sleep
- Ages 13-18: 8 to 10 hours of sleep
Obviously, occasional late night exceptions will happen. On a regular basis, however, these sleep amounts support optimal health. If your child seems to be getting sufficient sleep, it may be worth examining the quality of their sleep. Sleep conditions such as sleep apnea may cause even sufficient amounts to be inadequate. Sleep apnea in children may be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
#2 Chronic Illnesses
If your child has a chronic illness that is not well managed, it could contribute to a kid with constantly low energy. For many, ongoing fatigue may be the first sign that something is amiss, including:
- Viral Infections (such as Epstein Barr Virus and mono)
Fortunately, many of these illnesses or conditions are treatable or manageable.
#3 Depression and Mental Health Issues
Mental health challenges and depression, whether in children or adults, may often manifest through fatigue or low energy. There are a number of things that can cause depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. Finding the root cause may be key to treating the issue and relieving fatigue, as well as other symptoms.
- Depression or anxiety may be the result of a chemical imbalance or neurological disorder.
- Anxiety may be due to pressure to perform in sports, activities or academically. The pressure may be self-imposed or felt (whether perceived or real) from parents, teammates or educators.
- Depression may be tied to bullying or other social situations.
- Anxiety, paranoia or other mental disorders could stem from the use, misuse or abuse of drugs or alcohol (prescription, legal or illegal).
#4 Inadequate Nutrition
Raising children is not for the faint of heart! And trying to find foods that are nutritious, delicious (aka, your kid will actually eat), affordable and quick to prepare can feel like a full-time job. Not to mention, what your child liked to eat yesterday, they refuse to today. Ugh!
So, we take shortcuts. We use fast food. We use processed or premade products. And understandably so. But taking a shortcut in meeting your child’s long-term nutritional needs could cause fatigue or other nutrition-related health issues.
If you’re concerned your child’s fatigue may be tied to nutritional deficits, consider adding a supplemental multivitamin such as Children’s Optimal Brain and Body.
If your child is experiencing long-term fatigue beyond just simply being tired or overexerting, talk to your pediatrician. Work together to find the cause and solutions to get your low energy kid back to bouncy! Our door is always open. Purchase a subscription to any supplement and get 15% off – plus a free 15-minute consultation with our Clinic Director.