Behavior Therapy Eases Kids' Sleep Woes

New review of the data shows these interventions work

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THURSDAY, Oct. 5, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral therapies can be an effective means of dealing with bedtime problems and nighttime awakenings in children, a new review of the data finds.

The findings are based on a review of 52 studies with a total of 2,500 infants and toddlers, conducted by a task force appointed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

The findings are published in the October issue of Sleep.

"The results indicate that behavioral therapies produce reliable and durable changes in bedtime problems and night wakings in infants and children," study author Jodi A. Mindell, of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, said in a prepared statement.

"Across all studies, 94 percent report that behavioral interventions produced clinically significant improvements in bedtime problems and/or night wakings," she said. "Approximately 82 percent of children benefit from treatment, and the majority maintain these results for three to six months."

Previous research has shown that 20 percent to 30 percent of young children have significant bedtime problems and/or night awakenings, Mindell said.

The AASM offers some advice for parents to help their children sleep better:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Set aside 10 to 30 minutes each night to help your child get ready to go to sleep.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Interact with your child at bedtime. Don't let the television, computer or video games take your place at that time.
  • Don't let infants fall asleep while they're being held, rocked, fed a bottle, or while they're nursing.
  • At bedtime, don't let your child have foods or drinks that contain caffeine. If possible, do not give children any medicines (such as decongestants and cough medicines) that contain stimulants to children at bedtime.

Experts advise that children get the following amount of sleep: infants (3 to 11 months) -- 14 to 15 hours per night; toddlers -- 12 to 14 hours; preschoolers -- 11 to 13 hours; and school-age children -- 10 to 11 hours.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about children and sleep.

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, October 2006


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