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Kids' Sleep Linked to Family Income

Children From Low-Income Families May Have Poorer Sleep Than Middle-Class Kids
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 11, 2007 -- Children from low-income families may have more sleep problems than kids from middle-class families.

That's according to a study presented today in Minneapolis at Sleep 2007, the 21st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The researchers included Sanjeev Kothare, MD, of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Willow Grove, Pa.

They studied 32 boys and 32 girls from low-income families. The kids were about 7 years old, on average, and didn't have long-term (chronic) health problems.

When the kids had medical appointments, their parents completed a 35-item survey about the child's sleep patterns.

Survey topics included the child's bedtime resistance, delays in falling asleep, waking up during the night, breathing problems during sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

Kothare's team compared the survey's results to data from a previous study of children from middle-class families.

The children from low-income families had worse sleeping patterns than those from middle-class families, the researchers report. The exact reasons for those differences aren't clear.

Sleep Tips for Kids

Children need good sleep to be at their best during the day. If they're sleepy at school, it may be harder for them to learn.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), preschool children need 11-13 hours of nightly sleep and school-aged children need 10-11 hours of nightly sleep.
The AASM offers these sleep tips for children of any age or background:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night's sleep every night.
  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants before bedtime.
  • Don't go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

If your child has sleep problems, talk to the child's pediatrician, who may refer you to a sleep specialist.

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