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If you are a parent exasperated by your child's sleeping patterns, here are some guidelines for helping kids get to sleep at night - and stay asleep:
- Have them go to bed at the same time every night; this helps the body get into a routine.
- Follow a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath or reading.
- Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include sodas, chocolate, and coffee-flavored ice cream.
- Do not allow a TV in the child's room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less. If they do have a TV, turn it off when it's time to sleep.
- Don't let them watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime because these can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.
- Don't let them run around and get excited just before going to bed.
- Use their bed just for sleeping - not homework, reading, playing games, or talking on the phone. That way, you'll train them to associate their bed with sleep.
Teenagers need more sleep than adults. Teenagers need eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep per night, compared to the eight hours adults need.
Helping teenagers get to sleep:
To increase nighttime sleep for your teen, follow these guidelines by the National Sleep Foundation:
- Cut out television, video games and Internet access within two hours of bedtime
- Cut out all caffeinated beverages and foods after lunch.
- Assessment and changes in sleep schedules and sleep habits are often required as well, with the help of the family physician or a sleep doctor.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|