New Research Reveals the Positive Effects of a Sleep Routine for Children

Sleep is an essential part of maintaining physical and mental health. As children are developing, it is important that they get adequate amounts of sleep each night. As a parent, it can be challenging to develop a regular sleep routine for children.

A recent article by the New York Times discussed how common sleep issues are among children, and the necessity for developing a regular sleep routine for children.

A common misconception is that babies are the only adolescents that have issues with sleep, but this is not the case. The most common sleep issues for children around the age of school entry include limit-setting issues and sleep onset association disorder—where a child has become habituated to falling asleep only in a certain context, requiring the presence of a parent or needing to have the TV on. There are also children who have issues with anxiety, nightmares, night terrors and early morning waking, that inhibit quality sleep.

Research on Sleep Issues in Children

In a study of 4,460 children, 22.6 percent had sleep problems, according to their parents, at that transition age of 6 to 7 years—where kids were just starting school.

Due to these results, researchers decided to conduct a controlled trial of a brief intervention for children in their first year of school. A group of 108 parents who felt their children had sleep problems were divided into two groups. One group got a consultation at school, with a program of strategies tailored to the child’s sleep issues, and follow-up phone consultations to make sure a sleep routine for children were maintained. The second group got no special intervention and served as controls.

The parents in the intervention group were also counseled on a range of possible measures to improve sleep, including a sleep routine for children and relaxation techniques for anxiety that might be causing insomnia.

The Findings

The results of the research concluded that children in the intervention group extended their sleep by an average of 18.2 minutes a night, and also reduced the length of time it took them to fall asleep by 2.3 minutes. These relatively modest changes correlated with improved report card grades in English and math; the control group children’s sleep duration did not change, and their grades did not improve.

The study reveals that for most school-age children, sleep issues are typical caused by an issue of habits and routines, screen time and setting limits. The highly recommend developing a sleep routine for children to ensure that they are receiving the amount of healthy sleep they need.

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