Sunday, July 26, 2009

How to Help Your Child Sleep Better

A new study confirmed that poor “sleep hygiene” has a negative effect on the sleep patterns of young children.

The study analyzed data from a national poll of 1,473 parents and caregivers; their children ranged in age from newborns to 10-year-olds. The poll included questions on sleep habits and sleep patterns.

Having a late bedtime after 9 p.m. was associated with sleep problems across all ages. Children who went to bed late took longer to fall asleep; they also had a shorter total sleep time.

Having a parent present when the child falls asleep also affected all age groups; these children woke up more often during the night.

Children 3 years of age and older had a shorter total sleep time if they had a TV in the bedroom; they also obtained less sleep if they had no consistent bedtime routine.

Children 5 years of age and older slept less if they regularly consumed caffeine.

The authors concluded that good sleep hygiene helps young children sleep better. Basic tips that parents should put into practice include:

- Letting children fall asleep independently
- Putting children to bed before 9 p.m.
- Establishing a bedtime routine that includes reading
- Helping children avoid caffeine
- Keeping a TV out of the bedroom

In May the Sleep Education Blog
reported that a simple, four-step nightly routine helps children sleep better. Children fell asleep faster, and they had fewer and shorter night wakings.

In March the blog
reported on TV, children and bedtime. Studies indicate that watching TV can have a negative effect on children’s sleep.

Learn more about sleep and children on

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