Tips for helping children sleep
Experts offer these ideas for promoting good sleep habits in elementary school children:
•Wake time: The biological clock resets in the morning, so it’s just as important to have a consistent wake-up time as a consistent bedtime.
•Weekends: Avoid letting children sleep extremely late on weekends, but be flexible enough to allow a little fun.
•Overscheduling: Consider limits on activities that crowd out slumber. Keep it to one sport per season, for example.
•Melatonin: Only under a doctor’s guidance should a parent give melatonin. Studies have found the synthetic hormone helps, but products aren’t standardized and more research is needed.
•Temperature: A cool bedroom is better.
•Caffeine: Soda or chocolate at lunch may keep some children awake at night, so limit or rule out caffeine.
•Electronics: Keep TVs, cell phones, computer games and other electronics out of the bedroom.
•Bedtime routine: Encourage reading, chatting about the day or other soothing activities in the 30 minutes before bed.
•Extra help: Consult a doctor if a child continues to have trouble sleeping or appears exhausted during the day.
Sources: Dr. Stephen Sheldon, Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital;
Jodi Mindell, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,
author of “Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep.”