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Childrens' Sleeping Needs

By F. Trainer

Several surveys show that over 20 percent of children have sleep problems at some point in their early lives. Determining how to get children to sleep better and longer is important not just because parents need their rest, but because lack of sleep cause problems later or in some cases, sleep apnea, which affects about 2 percent of children, can cause heart problems.

AGE No. of
Sleep Hours Required
4 years 11.5
5 years 11
6 years 10.75
7 years 10.50
8 years 10.25
9 years 10
10 years 9.75

More often, sleep deprivation affects the way kids think and act. Tired children often are overactive and have trouble concentrating. There appears to be a connection between sleep problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bed-wetting, though researchers are not sure what it is.

Poor sleep can make kids obstinate or whiny. It affects their memory and ability to make decisions. The key to good sleep is what experts call "sleep hygiene."

Ask Yourself The Following:

  • Does your family have a predictable schedule and bedtime routine? You want this.
  • Does the child fall asleep in front of a television? This is not a good idea.
  • Have your allowed a child to learn how to fall asleep on his own, or do you help, by staying in the room, or rocking the child to sleep?

Sleep Hygiene

  • Devise a reward system for your child if he falls asleep at the acceptable time and place.
  • The goal is to have him consistently fall asleep in his room alone.
  • If a child joins you at night in bed parents should walk him back to his room.
  • Give the child a regular bedtime schedule and make sure the TV is off
The result can be the ability to see your child rise refreshed and ready to go, at 7 a.m. with reduced or no moodiness. Quite an accomplishment! If problems still persist though it may be time to see a behavioral sleep team so they can do a sleep study and find out if there is a specific sleep disorder and how to treat it.

Symptoms in a child that can indicate a sleep disorder:

  • Appearing extremely confused when waking during the night
  • Banging of his or her head when falling asleep
  • Kicking of legs in a rhythmic fashion when sleeping
  • Noisy breathing
  • Breathing though the mouth when asleep
  • Frequent coughing or choking during the night
  • Very restless sleeping
  • Snoring

F. Trainer, Contributing Writer for SearchMothers.com

Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Insomnia Association, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Southern California Sleep Disorders Specialists

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