A child experiencing sleep problems.
Healthy Living

Establishing a Sleep Routine with Your Child

Dec 6 2021

Are you dealing with a sleepless child at night who is grumpy during the day and causing chaos? Or maybe your child, who can’t fall asleep at bedtime, isn’t doing well in the classroom and their grades are slipping.

“Having a child with sleep problems is not uncommon,” Mohamad Khoudoud, MD, one of our sleep medicine specialists in Paducah, Ky. shares. “In fact, according to research from “American Family Physician,” up to 50 percent of kids will experience a sleep issue. Identifying the cause of the problem early can help prevent negative consequences.”

Sleep is vital for brain development and your child’s overall health. Therefore, poor sleep is linked to problems with weight, mental health, behavior and learning.

Doctors recommend that children and young adults get the following amount of sleep per day:

  • Ages 3 to 5 years old – 10 to 13 hours per day
  • Ages 6 to 12 years old – nine to 12 hours per day
  • Ages 13 to 18 years old – eight to 10 hours per day
  • Ages 19 and up – seven or more hours per day

Most new parents are eager to establish a bedtime routine so everyone in the family can get some much-needed rest. However, as your child gets older, you’ll still want to keep a bedtime routine.

For your child’s bedtime, make sure:

  • The noise level in the house is low
  • You limit any caffeine or sugar your child has a few hours before bed
  • You set a house temperature that is not too hot or too cold
  • A comfy pillow and environment are provided (consider using a noise machine in the room, too)
  • You read an age-appropriate story with your child right before bed

“If these steps don’t work and your child can’t fall asleep or stay asleep through the night, talk with your pediatrician to determine what your next steps should be,” Dr. Khoudoud advises. “They may recommend a sleep study.”

If your child needs a sleep study, you will arrive at the sleep center around two hours before your child’s bedtime. A sleep technician will place sensors on your child’s head, chin, legs and around the eyes. They will then place an elastic belt around your child’s chest and stomach to measure breathing. Parents stay the night with their child at the center.

“These tools measure eye movements, heart rate, breathing patterns, brain waves, the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, snoring, body movements and sleep positions,” Dr. Khoudoud shares.

The data goes to a computer and helps doctors assess the quality of rest your child is receiving. It can also help doctors diagnose issues like sleep apnea, snoring, narcolepsy and disruptive limb movements.

“Once we know what’s keeping your kid up, we can create an appropriate plan to help your child get the best night’s sleep,” Dr. Khoudoud shares.

Learn more and the pediatric services and sleep medicine services we offer at Mercy Health.

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