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How Well Does Your Child Sleep at Night?

by Rochelle R. Perrotta, LPCC-S

One of the main concerns I have heard from parents over the years is difficulty getting their children to sleep throughout the night. Many times, children struggle to fall asleep or wake up frequently. Sometimes children have restless sleep patterns or even nightmares. Problems with sleep can be stressful for not only the child, but also parents!

According to Web MD, children and adolescents need at least nine hours of sleep per night. When children fail to get enough sleep, parents may notice the following changes:

  • Trouble concentrating and paying attention
  • Poor memory skills
  • Irritability or increased frustration
  • Behavioral issues
  • Learning problems or a decline in grades
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Feeling excessively tired

Fortunately, there are many things that parents can do to help improve their child’s sleep patterns. These simple changes can make a big difference in the quality of your child’s sleep:

Establish a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it!
This may consist of all the things your child needs to do before bed (brush teeth, put pajamas on, etc.). It is also important to have a set bedtime every night. Having a routine for your child will help promote good sleep habits.

Help your child relax and unwind before bedtime.
This may include reading a book or listening to calming music. Avoid electronics at least an hour before bedtime, as this may worsen your child’s sleep patterns.

Avoid giving your child any food or drink that contains caffeine before bedtime.
Caffeine can make it harder for your child to relax and sleep at night.

Make sure your child is comfortable in their room.
This may mean regulating the temperature and lighting. Keep noise levels within the house as low as possible, so your child is not disturbed or awakened.

Use a calming item.
Giving your child a special item to keep with him or her at night can help promote relaxation and improve sleep. The calming item may be a favorite stuffed animal or toy.

Please remember that it’s not uncommon for a child to have a restless night now and again. If a parent begins to notice a significant pattern with sleep problems, it’s always a good idea to have your child checked by the family doctor to rule out any medical conditions.

For more information or questions, please contact Alta Behavioral Healthcare at (330) 793-2487.