Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Online Toolset Helps Young Children and Their Parents Find Sleep

Sleep-deprived new parents may want to put down the baby books and turn to the internet for help. A new study in the April issue of the journal SLEEP shows internet-based interventions work wonders reducing infant and toddler sleep disturbances.

Mothers in the study used Johnson & Johnson’s Customized Sleep Profile, an online program that compares a child’s sleep to other children of the same age. Parents enter details about the child’s sleep habits, such as position, sleep environment and bedtime routine and times awoken per night.

The program uses an algorithm to generate a summary of the child’s sleep habits and generates customized recommendations. A child can be an “excellent, good or disrupted sleeper.”

A group of 264 mothers were randomly assigned to an internet intervention group or a control group. Following an internet intervention, parents reported a 50 percent or more decrease in the number and duration of night wakings. Children took less time to fall asleep and had a longer total sleep time at night. As a result, the mothers slept better and had notable improvements in levels of tension, depression, fatigue and confusion.

Johnson & Johnson’s Customized Sleep Profile seems to be an effective place to start if your child is a disturbed sleeper. The algorithm gives at least some useful advice that benefited the mothers in the study.

Similar internet interventions are available from other online sources. It’s too early to know that the other programs work, because the study only examined the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson’s Customized Sleep Profile.

Sleep problems are common among young children – as many as 30 percent of infants and toddlers have disrupted sleep. Young children have a form of sleep apnea, which would require treatment. If you believe your child’s sleep problems may be serious, skip the internet intervention and see your family pediatrician instead.

Read more about Sleep & Young Children.

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