Martha Jefferson HealthWise--November 12th

Adequate sleep is essential to a child’s health and growth. Sleep promotes alertness, memory and performance. However, about 69 percent of children 10 and under experience some type of sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Joining us today for Martha Jefferson Healthwise is Dr. Chris Winter, neurologist and sleep medicine advisor for Men's Health Magazine, with tips on improving your child’s sleep.

How much sleep should a child get each day?

Each child is different and has different sleep needs. On average, between the ages of 5 and 12, a child should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep each day, including naps. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioral problems and moodiness. That is why it is important for parents to start early and help their children develop good sleep habits what role does napping play in how well a child sleeps at night?

For young children, nap and nighttime sleep are both necessary and independent of each other. Children who nap well are usually less cranky and sleep better at night. Although children differ, after six months of age, naps of 1/2 to two hours duration are expected and are generally discontinued between ages 2-5 years. Daytime sleepiness or the need for a nap after this age should be investigated further.

How can parents establish good sleep habits with their children?

The #1 tip for good sleeping habits in children is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night. First, make bedtime the same time every night. Second, make bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. TV viewing prior to bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Save your child’s favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in the child’s bedroom.

Whatt sleep problems should parents watch for in their children?

Many children suffer from at least one sleep-related problem, which can include nightmares, sleep walking, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy or “excessive sleepiness”. Parents who notice these sleep-related issues should consult their pediatrician.

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