Are Our Kids Sleeping Enough?
By: Dr. Bhumi
Upadhyay, Northeast Pediatrics
School is in full gear and the
holidays are here. There is homework, after school activities,
sports, parties, and much more to do. When will our kids sleep
and is it enough?
Sleep is extremely important for the
growing child. Children who get adequate sleep do better in
school, have less behavior problems, and are mentally and
physically more healthy. Studies have shown that 50% of school
aged children have trouble waking up in the morning and 30% stay
up past their bedtime 2-4 times a week without parental
permission. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 1-3 year
olds need 12-14 hours of sleep daily, 3-5 year olds need 11-13
hours daily and 5-12 year olds need 10-11 hours daily.
Since sleep is so important to the
developmental of the child, good sleep habits should be
established at a young age and parents should monitor their
children’s sleeping environments. The two most common sleep
problems are getting to bed and night awakenings.
Parents should set a bedtime routine
to help the child get to bed. Routines should include bathing,
brushing teeth, reading books together, hugs and kisses and
goodnights. Also teach your child that when the clock says
“this” it is time for bed. Also give 10 minute warnings for bath
time or reading time. An hour prior to bedtime should be calming-
No television, no noisy activities. The bedtime should be the same
time everyday. The child will be confused and tired if the times
are altered from day to day.
For the school aged child, the routine
is still important, along with limits on caffeine intake, and
television shows that are violent or scary. This even includes
stories about natural disasters, death of family members or other
realistic threats or dangers that can happen.
Night awakenings are more common in
children because parents feel that they need to help the child
soothe himself to sleep. Parents need to start in infancy to put
the child in the crib while still drowsy, not after the child has
fallen asleep in parent’s arm. The child should also be put into
the crib after a feeding, not put him to sleep with a feeding.
This will teach the child to soothe himself to sleep. As the
child gets older and there are still issues with night awakenings,
parents need to let the child try to soothe himself when he wakes
up. Let the child cry it out a little. If the child continues to
cry, the parents should go in the room and just gently pat him and
say something positive like “mommy (or daddy) loves you.” For the
older toddler, a transitional object should be introduced that he
can cuddle with at night. This object should read stories with
you and the child and be small enough to take places.
With the following suggestions, a
child should have no trouble going to bed and staying asleep.
Parents need to be consistent with bedtimes and set limits for the
child to ensure a healthy growing child.
Upadhyay, a Board Certified Pediatrician and active member of the
American Academy of Pediatrics, graduated from the University of
Miami six year Honors Program in Medicine. If you have questions
about this article or your child email Dr. Bhumi at
firstname.lastname@example.org. We are accepting new patients
please call to get to know the doctor 526-PEDS
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