There seems to be an overwhelming number of children on my birth-to-three caseload who are having trouble sleeping lately. Their parents are saying that they are having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. The children will either keep getting up and not be able to fall back asleep (and this goes on every couple of hours, every night) or they can't fall asleep to begin with and cry for hours. It's not just the older children either who are having trouble. There are several infants who are having trouble too.
The web site The Future of Children has a good journal article on what to expect when a child has been born exposed to drugs in utero. Sleeping problems are mentioned several times throughout the article. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has also written about the sleep problems in children exposed to prenatal drug use and offers suggestions on how to try and help a child sleep better. They recommend that children under 1 year of age should get between 14 and 15 hours of a sleep each night. Children who are 1-3 years of age (toddlers) should get between 12 and 14 hours of sleep. Preschool children should get between 11 and 13 hours and school aged children should get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep. As we all know, getting the correct amount of sleep helps is essential to help a child better be able to develop and learn properly during their waking hours.
So what are some strategies to help a child who is having trouble sleeping? The University of Michigan Health System has a detailed article regarding sleep problems and offers a variety of strategies to try and help attain better sleep. WebMD has an article from Exceptional Parent Magazine titled: "Put Sleep Difficulties to Bed: Advice for Parents of Children with Autism." The Mayo Clinic has an article to help parents of preschool children fall asleep called: "Child Sleep: Put preschool bedtime problems to sleep." These articles discuss the growing concern of children not getting the right amount of sleep and what might be done to help them.
Today I have shared a quick overview on childhood sleeping problems by posting a few web sites and articles relating to sleeping and sleeping strategies. Please join me in the next couple of weeks as I go into more detail on why there seems to be an increase in children having sleeping problems and the strategies I have found to be most effective in helping to establish healthy sleeping habits.