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"Just 15 minutes longer." "I'm not tired!" "I don't want to get up!"

Sound familiar? Kids and parents frequently clash about when children need to sleep – and for how long. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 69 percent of children have sleep problems. Kids resist sleeping for many reasons: overstimulation, caffeine, nightmares, and even snoring.

It's wise to be concerned. The American Academy of Pediatrics ties lack of sleep to some very serious health problems such as depression, insulin resistance, lowered immunity and even ADHD. And a tired child is apt to have problems at school.

So, how much sleep do kids really need?

More than most are getting, I am afraid. Ten years ago children got an average of four hours more sleep each week! I recommend these guidelines:

  • 11 to 13 hours for a 3 to 5 year old.
  • 10 to 11 hours for a school-aged child
  • At least 9 hours for teenagers.

How to get them to bed – and keep them there?

As parents, here are a few suggestions to help you break the bedtime battle:

1. Bedtime Targets

Move their bedtime back 15 minutes every other day until you reach the desired bedtime. For daylight savings time (which is March 13th 2016), start a few weeks ahead, and the time change will be minimal.

2. Unplug the Bedroom

Turn off TVs, computers, and cell phones. Better yet, make the bedroom for sleeping by keeping them out altogether.

3. Wind-down Time

Start the transition to sleep with dimmed lights and a bath; end with a book. Avoid TV just before bedtime.

4. Go Decaf

Kids may consume caffeine in soft drinks or chocolate. Eliminate caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime so it won’t affect sleep.

5. Reduce Daytime Stimulation

Overbooked kids have a difficult time winding down at bedtime.  Try to stick to one activity per season.

6. Get Help

If, despite these measures, your child still resists bedtime, has nighttime awakenings, or snores, talk with your doctor.

Looking for more information? Check out more articles on sleep.

Joan Quinn, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic 192Dodge Family Medicine

Dr. Quinn answers your questions about child health and parenting. Dr. Quinn knows it is very important to spend time listening to her patients to find out what is going on with their health and in their lives. For example, if someone works the night shift or maybe he or she is caring for a sick child, these circumstances can affect their health and how they feel. She is concerned about treating the whole patient and not just their condition. She knows her patients and about their lives. B ...

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