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Sleep Tips for Kids

Sleep is no less important than food, drink, or safety in the lives of children. Unfortunately, life's demanding schedule often prevents kids from getting the critical sleep they need to develop and function properly.

Here are some tips to help your child get the sleep he needs:

Night Terrors in Children

Night terrors are distinctly different from the much more common nightmares, which occur during REM sleep. Night terrors are characterized by frequent recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty arousing the child. Night terrors are frightening episodes that disrupt family life.

An estimated 1-6% of children experience night terrors. Boys and girls are equally affected. Children of all races also seem to be affected equally. The disorder usually resolves during adolescence.

  • Establish a regular bedtime each night for your child and do not vary from it. Similarly, the wakeup time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than 1 to 11/2 hours.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.
  • Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid giving your child large meals close to bedtime.
  • Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time, as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • There should be no television, radio, or music playing while your child is going to sleep.
  • Make sure the temperature in your child's bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.
  • Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
  • Infants and children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in a parent's arms, or in another room). You should avoid getting into bed with your child in order to get him or her to sleep.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on August 21, 2014

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