Luke is so tired and cranky after preschool that he falls asleep while eating his lunch," said my friend Mary Beth over coffee. "Then he?s wide awake until after the late news every night and has a fit when we finally force him to go to bed. When the alarm goes off the next morning, he?s fussy again and doesn?t want to get ready for school."
Children may not want to sleep, but good, restful sleep is necessary to help heal and repair the body. Still, recent health reports suggest that many Americans, including children and teenagers, are chronically sleep-deprived. In a study at Northwestern University Medical Center, experts followed the sleep patterns of 510 kids between 2 and 5 years old. The study found that less sleep at night resulted in more behavioral problems during the day. Separate studies have found that adults who suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia can often trace the disorder back to their elementary years.
As with adults, there are all kinds of reasons children don?t sleep well. But if you?ve got a problem sleeper (or two, or three) in your house, there are ways to help everyone get a good night?s sleep.
"I?m Not Sleepy!"
Learning to sleep all night is a big step toward independence for children. While you can?t force your child to fall asleep, you can help him relax at bed time, making it easier for him to get the deep sleep he needs.
What You Can Do:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine and stick with it, even on weekends.
- Keep naps early in the day, and encourage activity in the late afternoon.