Monitoring Your Child’s Sleep
How much sleep does your child need? Is your child getting enough? How can you be sure? Does a good night’s sleep affect your child’s mood? Does trouble sleeping at night cause problems during the day?
Sleep studies show that sleep deprivation problems can start with children as young as toddlers. Lack of sleep can make it difficult for young children to concentrate in school and can cause them to have problems working and playing with their peers. Here are some parenting tips from the National Institute of Health’s “Star Sleeper” Web site to help make sure your child avoids sleep problems.
- Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it.
Keeping to a regular bedtime routine makes it easier for a child to fall asleep quickly and awake feeling rested and alert.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading him or her a story.
Playing action-packed games, watching TV, or rough-housing 20 minutes before bedtime can cause sleeping problems. Bedtime stories help your child relax and go to sleep.
- Avoid feeding children big meals close to bedtime.
A heavy meal can cause a child to have trouble sleeping.
- Avoid giving children anything with caffeine less than 6 hours before bedtime.
Colas and other caffeine drinks can keep a child awake or make him or her restless during the night. Remember, chocolate has caffeine.
- Set the bedroom temperature so that it’s comfortable—not too warm and not too cold.
Extreme temperatures can make it hard for a child to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. If necessary, use a small nightlight.
Televisions and other bright or loud distractions should be kept away from the bedroom.
Now that you have some information, take the Sleep Quiz at “Star Sleeper.”
- “Star Sleeper”: Garfield and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (for parents/for kids). Discover the importance of sleep, how much sleep is “enough,” and how to make sure young children get to sleep.
- Your Child: Sleep Problems is an excellent Q&A for parenting tips from the University of Michigan Health System.
- “A Good Night’s Sleep for Young Children…and Parents” from Western Michigan’s Memorial Medical Center provides a series of articles that give simple solutions to children’s sleep problems.