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Lack of sleep may lead to behavioral problems in kids, says study

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A recent study claims that getting little sleep may cause cognitive and behavioral problems in children. Read on to learn more.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep during early childhood may lead to both cognitive and behavioral problems later in life?

Reuters Health cited a recent study published in Academic Pediatrics, which claimed that kids who don't get enough sleep may experience developmental difficulties.

"Children who aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep have more difficulties with attention, with emotional control, with reasoning, with problem-solving, and also have behavioral problems," Dr. Elsie Taveras, lead author of the study, explained to Reuters. "What we found was that insufficient sleep in children was associated with poorer executive function and behavior."

Researchers based these findings on data gathered through monitoring 1,046 children even before they were born. The children's mothers were asked to fill out questionnaires every year, noting their kid's sleeping habits from 6 months, 3 years, and 7 years old.

child to sleep in own bed

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Dr. Taveras urged parents to be consistent when setting up sleep schedules and routines, which are crucial to making sure kids get good sleep.

"Don’t have your child go to sleep at midnight on the weekends and then expect that you’re going to be able to get them to bed and asleep by 8:30 on weekdays," she said in a Reuters interview.

Here are some three tips pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Dean Beebe shared with Reuters Health:

1. Know your goal

The benchmark researchers in the aforementioned study used for what counts as "sufficient sleep" was at least 12 hours during infancy, at least 11 hours for 3-4 year olds and at least 10 hours for kids aged 5 to 7.

Parents can refer what the National Sleep Foundation recommends as the right amount of sleep depending on their children's age. Consulting a pediatrician to address more specific sleep problems will also help.

2. Pay attention to your child's needs

Some kids need more sleep than others. Observe your child during nap times, for instance. Are they resistant? Don't pressure them too much. Instead, make nap times fun. You can provide fun incentives like a nap chart that they can update with colorful stickers of their favorite shapes or characters.

3. Set schedules and routines

"The more chaotic and the less predictable that sleep schedule, the more difficulty the kids tend to have with sleep," said Dr. Beebe, adding that easing them into bedtime through storytelling is still an effective way to wind down. "It seems old fashioned but it's very calming, it's very connecting. It can be very soothing, and it's very predictable."

READ: Did you know that sleeping early is healthier for your child?

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