Oct 16, 2013

Dr. Cindy Gellner: If your kids are anything like mine, they've had some bedtime resistance issues. "I need another drink. I need another hug. The lights are turned on right. The door's not closed properly." However, if you get your child on a good bedtime routine like my kids now are, they will be better at school, they'll be more focused, their grades will be better, and you will have happier children. I am Dr. Cindy Gellner, pediatrician with the University of Utah Healthcare, and that's today on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from the University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Dr. Cindy Gellner: Regular bedtimes are really important to children. Even infants, it's important for them because babies sleep about 15 hours a day. That includes naps. If they don't get all that sleep in, they're going to be really fussy, really cranky, and you're not going to get a good night's sleep either, which is really important for new parents.

Toddlers also. Toddlers sleep about 11 to 13 hours a day. They often need a morning nap, sometimes an afternoon nap, too, and they can often be afraid of going to bed. They're afraid that they're not going to wake up. They're afraid of the dark. They're afraid of monsters under the bed.

They're afraid of lots of different things, and getting a good bedtime ritual going on, maybe a bath at night, have a quiet activity such as reading. Our kids have a good bedtime routine where it's pajamas, teeth brushed, story time, say good night, lights out.

Kids really like routine. They thrive on having the same thing over and over and over. It gives them predictability to know, "This is normal. I'm not going to be thrust into a situation where kind of, like, when you're on vacation." Kids are way out of their element, and they don't know what's going on. So even keeping your kids on a good bedtime at vacations is important.

Kids who do not have a good bedtime routine often will fight you and be up late. The hardest time especially is for school kids. They will not get to bed on time. They will not wake up on time. They will be sleep deprived at school. They will fall asleep in class. They will not do well on test taking. They will struggle with peer relationships because they might be more cranky, so their friends don't want to be around them.

Grade school kids usually sleep about 9 to 11 hours at night, and it actually takes them about 15 to 30 minutes after lying down quietly before they get to sleep. That's why it's important to set an earlier bedtime so that when they do get to sleep, they do get that full 9 to 11 hours.

Teenagers. They still need nine to ten hours of sleep. Some teenagers will do okay with eight. Do not push it more than eight. They get sleepier than pre-teens, and they often have trouble falling asleep. Then they'll be tired at school. I would say, "No texting after 9:00." You don't need it.

You actually need about a good half hour to be able to get yourself ready to go to sleep and be restful. It can take an average of about 20 minutes for someone to fall asleep. If it takes longer than an hour, then we need to talk and see what's going on. Are they having anxiety issues? A lot of kids who have ADHD have insomnia issues, and they won't go to bed until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

So if you're finding that you're not able to get your child to sleep at an appropriate time, you do want to talk to your doctor to figure out what is going on. Is it a resistance? A behavior issue? Is it a medical issue? Do they have something like sleep apnea? We're actually seeing sleep apnea in kids where they snore and they actually pause when they're breathing.

Those kids, even though they think that they're sleeping all night, they're actually waking up in the middle of the night numerous times, and when they wake up, they're just exhausted. There are treatments available for that. Taking the tonsils and adenoids out is one.

Grade school kids usually sleep about 9 to 11 hours at night, and it actually takes, like I said, about 15 to 30 minutes after lying down quietly before they get to sleep. So that's why it's important to set an earlier bedtime so that when they do get to sleep, they do get that full 9 to 11 hours.

Teenagers. They still need nine to ten hours of sleep. Some teenagers will do okay with eight. Do not push it more than eight. They get sleepier than pre-teens, and they often have trouble falling asleep. They may not fall asleep for about a half an hour after lying down, and then they'll be tired at school.

The other thing you want to make sure of is that if your kids stay up late on Friday and Saturday night, that's not always a good thing. Try to keep them on track with their school schedule. Try to make sure they get the same number of hours of sleep, and don't think that you can make up the sleep on the weekends. You can't. You need to get the full number of sleep every night, otherwise your brain is going to be fried.

The most important thing as a parent that you can do for your child to make sure they get enough sleep is make sure you have a good bedtime schedule, a consistent bedtime that they should be in bed, lights out, for, and you should have a good bedtime routine so that the kids know, "This is what's going to happen. This is our routine." Actually, if you do that in the same order every night, they start getting sleepy when it's story time.

Also, the other thing to remember is don't fall for the little tricks such as, "I need more water. I need more of this. I need more of that. I didn't give you two hugs. I only gave you one." It's things like that. You need to be a parent and say, "You know what? No. Back to bed."

Announcer: Medical news and research from the University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

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