Parents: Your Child’s Sleep Problems are Probably Your Own

sleep issues in childrenIf you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you might think your child isn’t getting a good night’s rest either according to a new study. The study, Poor Parental Sleep and the Reported Sleep Quality of their Children, was published in the April 2016 issue of Pediatrics and suggests that how well parents sleep affects how well they think their child sleeps.

Researchers in Finland studied 100 children between the ages of 2 and 6. Their parents answered questions about their children’s sleeping habits, as well as their own. The parents were asked to keep diaries of sleep for both the children and themselves. The diaries of the children were compared with readings from actigraphy bracelets, a tool to monitor rest/activity cycles, which the children wore.

The study found that parents who reported more sleeping issues also reported more sleeping issues in their children. However, actigraph readings showed fewer sleep disturbances in the children. So, parents tend to overestimate sleep problems in children because of their own. This can be a serious issue since pediatric medicine depends on information from the parents, including medical history and current symptoms.

How do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? According to The National Sleep Foundation, toddlers should be sleeping 11-14 hours, preschoolers should get 10-13, and school-age children should get 9-11 hours. Adults (ages 26-64) should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

If you are having issues putting your child to bed try a bubble bath and reading to get your child ready for sleep. Experts say adding white noise is also helpful since the room might be too quiet for your child.

For younger children, Dr. Rebecca Kempton, a pediatric sleep specialist and member of the Advisory Board of the American Sleep Association, says to put the child in his/her crib awake so he/she learns to fall asleep.

Most of all, be patient. And if you think your child is suffering from sleeplessness, discuss with your doctor.

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