November 5, 2007 in Nation/World

Tips for helping children sleep

The Spokesman-Review

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.”

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