Stop Fighting Over Bedtime

"Just 15 minutes longer." Sound familiar? Kids and parents frequently clash about when children need to sleep - and for how long. With school starting, children may need to adjust their sleep schedules.

Dr. Joan Quinn, expert and family medicine physician at Methodist Physicians Clinic - 192 & Dodge says "Kids resist sleeping for many reasons: overstimulation, caffeine, nightmares, and even snoring. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 69 percent of children have sleep problems."

So, how much sleep do kids really need?

More than most are getting, I am afraid. Ten years ago children got an average of four hours more sleep each week! I recommend these guidelines:

-- 11 to 13 hours for a 3 to 5 year old.

-- 10 to 11 hours for a school-aged child

-- At least 9 hours for teenagers.

How to get them to bed - and keep them there

As parents, here are a few suggestions to help you break the bedtime battle:

1. Bedtime targets

Move their bedtime back 15 minutes every other day until you reach the desired bedtime. Start a few weeks ahead, and the time change will be minimal.

2. Unplug the bedroom

Turn off TVs, computers, and cell phones. Better yet, make the bedroom for sleeping by keeping them out altogether.

3. Wind-down time

Start the transition to sleep with dimmed lights and a bath; end with a book. Avoid TV just before bedtime.

4. Go decaf

Kids may consume caffeine in soft drinks or chocolate. Eliminate caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime so it won't affect sleep.

5. Reduce daytime stimulation

Overbooked kids have a difficult time winding down at bedtime. Try to stick to one activity per season.

Get help

If, despite these measures, your child still resists bedtime, has nighttime awakenings, or snores, talk with your doctor.


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