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Children Who Sleep Better Behave Better

Sometimes, kids simply don’t behave. But if your little one is already on his 5th meltdown of the day, there may be something else at fault aside from your kids’ age or temperament.

Researchers have now confirmed the longstanding assumption that the amount a child sleeps influences his behavior during the day. Among 9,000 four-year-olds who were studied, those who slept less than an average of 9.4 hours a night showed more anger, aggression, overactivity, impulsivity, tantrums, and annoying behavior. The relationship was so dramatic, in fact, that children who didn’t receive the average amount of sleep were 80 percent more likely to show aggression.

Plenty of adults will say they get just as cranky when they don’t get enough sleep too. However, the implications are far more worrisome for kids. Sleep is vital for children, especially those in their preschool years, as it plays an important role in their development and overall health.

Another recent study also found that irregular bedtimes during childhood could also have a negative impact on cognitive development, especially during critical development windows.

If your child isn’t sleeping well and has been showing signs of behavioral issues, parents and doctors must get involved immediately. But since sleep problems among children are so complex, it’s important for you to tread lightly when handling these matters with your young one.

A significant factor is that parents simply don’t know how much sleep their child should get - there’s very little education for parents about the ideal sleep duration times for kids. As a result, parents fail to understand the differences in sleep times for each stage of their child’s development . For instance, preschoolers (ages three to five) should be getting between 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night. While kids of this age should continue taking naps—the naptime phase typically ends after age five—they should also be following a regular and consistent sleep schedule.

And just as you would create a sleep environment and routine for yourself, children should do the same. A nighttime bath and story time in his or her bedroom are great ways to help your kid wind down at the end of the day. And as easy as it can be to let your child sleep in your bedroom, it’s important for him to sleep in the same place every night. Make sure the room is cool, quiet, and dark, unless your child prefers a nightlight, of course.

While you can also look to a variety of resources to promote sleep for your child, it’s important that you speak with your pediatrician to discuss these issues. Since there’s often more to the issue than what appears on the surface, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor.

For more information, visit Crozer-Keystone’s website. Crozer-Keystone offers a multidisciplinary approach to the identification and treatment of all types of adult and pediatric sleep disorders.

To make an appointment, visit our website or call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703).

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