Menu

Sleep Problems in Children

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on June 14, 2020

Children and adolescents need at least 9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep problems and a lack of sleep can have negative effects on children's performance in school, during extracurricular activities, and in social relationships.

A lack of sleep may cause:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Behavior problems
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Mood problems
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Performance problems
  • Slower reaction times
  • Overeating

Signs of Sleep Problems in Children

Talk to your pediatrician if your child shows any of the following signs of a sleep problem:

  • Snoring
  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Trouble staying awake during the day
  • Unexplained decrease in daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep such as sleepwalking or nightmares
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bedwetting
  • Restless sleep
  • Trouble waking up in the morning

Tips for Improving Your Child's Sleep

  • Set a regular time for bed each night, and don’t vary from it. And don’t encourage sleeping in on the weekends. Wake-up time shouldn’t differ by more than 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.
  • Don’t give children any food or drinks with caffeine less than 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and the bedroom is dark.
  • Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
  • Avoid giving children 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, computer, mobile phone, radio, or music playing while the child is going to sleep. TV and video games should be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Infants and children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in your arms, or in another room). Avoid getting into bed with your child in order to get them to sleep.

Talk to your child's health care provider if these tips don't help or if you need additional guidance.