Sweet Z-z-z-z-z's: The World of Childhood Sleep
Healthy child development requires sufficient slumber. So, when a young child fails to fall asleep at an appropriate hour, both parents and child suffer.
While observational studies do not allow researchers to say for sure whether poor sleep quality is a cause or a result of depression and low self esteem, other sleep researchers have linked a lack of sleep in young children to a whole host of daytime woes. These include hyperactivity, behavior problems, learning difficulties, and that dreaded condition feared by all parents: the cranky child. Sleep disturbance and behavior disorders are likely associated in children, even if it is rarely possible to say with certainty which causes which.
In the modern world, both parents work, so the whole household rises early. This makes a firm bedtime more important than ever. Unfortunately, many parents find that getting their young child to bed is the most difficult part of the day. To overcome this, create a routine associated with bedtime. Be as consistent as possible and start the routine at the same time every night.
One useful technique recommended by experts is the effective use of transitional time, which falls between normal evening activities and bedtime. Quiet, low-key activities such as bedtime stories, prayers, singing, warm baths, cuddling, and quiet talk make for good transitional time. Many children have a favorite teddy bear or toy they associate with bedtime each night. Once you establish this routine, your child will make the connection between quiet time and bedtime. During the transition, avoid activities that stimulate your child. These include, wrestling, roughhousing, or exciting television shows.
Make sure your child gets enough physical activity during the day. Aim for 60 minutes a day. Activity will reduce stress, and induce fatigue and relaxation. Your child may even look forward to going to sleep at night.
Last reviewedJanuary 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.