Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Basic Principles of Sleep Hygiene for Children

My bhabhi (sister-in-law) has an adorable 1 year old boy. This otherwise happy baby however becomes a extreemly fussy, irritable and cranky at least once/ twice a day.... Reason: Sleep time! In my practice I have come across innumerable instances of children having a lot of difficulty in falling of to sleep.
Listed below are a few tips to help get your child to sleep without a lot of fuss

Have a set bedtime and bedtime routine for your child.
Bedtime and wake-up time should be about the same time on school nights and non-school nights. There should not be more than about an hour difference from one day to another.
Make the hour before bed shared quiet time. Avoid such high-energy activities as rough play, and stimulating activities such as watching TV or playing computer games just before bed.
Don't send your child to bed hungry. A light snack (such as milk and cookies) before bed is a good idea. Heavy meals within an hour or two of bedtime, however, may interfere with sleep.
Avoid products containing caffeine for at least several hours before bedtime. These include caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Make sure your child spends time outside every day whenever possible and is involved in regular exercise.
Keep your child's bedroom quiet and dark. A low-level nightlight is acceptable for children who find completely dark rooms frightening.
Keep your child's bedroom at a comfortable temperature during the night (less than 75 degrees).
Don't use your child's bedroom for time-out or punishment.
Keep the television set out of your child's bedroom. Children can easily
develop the bad habit of “needing” the TV to fall asleep. It's also much more
difficult to control your child's TV viewing if the set is in the bedroom.

Source: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics

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