Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — How your child sleeps as a baby may predict how he sleeps later in life.
“He only got maybe four hours of sleep,” says mom Kristen Morrell. “He’d just be tossing and turning and whining.”
If they have trouble sleeping as infants, they could have trouble as toddlers.
In a study in the journal Pediatrics, more than 250 mothers were surveyed about their children’s sleep at six, 12, 24 and 36 months.
One in 10 kids under age three has nightmares, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or can’t sleep in her own bed. And a good night’s rest isn’t happening for one in five.
This is consistent with other studies.
“Some of those habits that you establish definitely carry on. We see it in school age children, definitely adolescents, and I’m sure if they do the studies and follow the kids further, they’ll also have problems as adults as well,” surmises Dr. TaTanisha Smith.
Two in 10 youngsters snore — something not to brush off.
“That’s actually a sign that there’s some turbulence in the way that child breathes so that’s something that needs to be checked out,” says Dr. Pakkay Ngai at the Hackensack University Medical Center.
“They’re not just snoring, but they’re actually having pauses in sleeping, where they’re not getting enough oxygen,” Dr. Smith points out. “[This] can raise blood pressure, cause neurodevelopmental delay.”
While sleep patterns may be partly the nature of the child, parents can change what they can to make sleep as inviting as possible for their kids.
“Just like adults need time to wind down, children also need that time to wind down, so they can get signals and cues, that okay, when we have a bath, that’s getting ready for bed time,” says Dr. Smith.
Having a bedtime routine, low lights and a quiet, separate space for sleeping can help ease a child into slumber. If children start out with no sleep problems, chances are, none will develop.