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Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child

Making sure your child gets good, sound sleep ensures he or she will have a sound foundation for proper mind and body development.

Sleep on These

Following are some observations from various studies illustrating some of the difficulties faced and the behavioral changes in children with sleep problems (from Wiessbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and On Becoming Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, MD):

  • Children do not "outgrow" sleep problems; problems must be solved.

  • Children who sleep longer during the day have longer attention spans.

  • Babies who sleep less in the daytime appear more fitful and socially demanding, and they are less able to entertain or amuse themselves.

  • Toddlers who sleep more are more fun to be around, more sociable, and less demanding. Children who sleep less can behave somewhat like hyperactive children.

  • Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function.

  • Children with higher IQs -- in every age group studied -- slept longer.

  • For ADHD children, improvements in sleep dramatically improved peer relations and classroom performance.

  • Healthy sleep positively affects neurologic development and appears to be the right medicine for the prevention of many learning and behavioral problems.

What Parents Can Do

As parents, it is our responsibility to be sensitive to and protect our children's sleep, just as we do their safety, just as we ensure that they regularly get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are primarily responsible for their sleep habits so it is important to start healthy ones early; it is much easier to instill good habits than correct bad ones.

Infuse the importance of sleep with daily attention to it and you will likely have a happier, self-assured, less demanding, and more sociable child. And you just might get some more sleep yourself.

Originally published June 2, 2003.
Medically updated Oct. 21, 2004.

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Reviewed on October 21, 2004

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