Sleep Disorders with Kids (cont.)

MODERATOR:
Can a child's sleep be affected by the quantity of caffeinated beverages they drink?

MINDELL:
Absolutely. The National Sleep Foundation poll found that almost a third of all school age children had a caffeinated beverage every day and these children got significantly less sleep at night.

There's no question children should not be drinking caffeinated sodas, both because of the empty calories and also because of the caffeine.

Another major cause of less sleep and sleep problems is televisions in the bedroom. There have been many studies showing the impact of television on kids' sleep. It's not a good habit, so get rid of them.

MODERATOR:
For those children who watch television before bed, but not in their rooms, how does what they watch affect their sleep?

MINDELL:
Surprisingly, the studies have all found that the type of television shows that children are watching didn't really matter, it was just literally watching TV.

So whether or not a child watches television around bedtime makes a huge difference in how well they sleep. And it was much worse if the television was literally in the bedroom.

MODERATOR:
Bedtime stories with mom and/or dad are much better in many ways.

MINDELL:
Absolutely! The same National Sleep Foundation poll that found that televisions and caffeine caused sleep problems, also found that including reading at bedtime, whether you are reading to your child or your child is reading to you, was related to more sleep and fewer sleep problems.

So not only is reading at bedtime good for literacy, it's also a great way to transition from a busy day to a peaceful night's sleep.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My 17-month-old son still wakes up once or twice a night, about 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., with screams. Sometimes it is clear night terror, other times he wakes up completely, and only a bottle helps. He goes to bed without problems, and when awake -- no bottle, no pacifier. Why can't he fall asleep when he wakes up at night?

MINDELL:
That's a good question. You're right, there are some kids who have perfect bedtime habits but still wake during the night. It's well worth getting rid of his nighttime bottle as nutritionally it's unlikely he needs it.

Another thing to try is to move his bedtime much earlier as children who go to bed earlier surprisingly sleep earlier. An earlier bedtime will also help decrease the likelihood of him having a sleep terror, as sleep deprivation is the number one contributor to sleep terrors. So moving to an earlier bedtime will most likely help both types of nighttime awakenings.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My child is a 12-year-old boy. After falling asleep he will jump and twitch. Is this a symptom of something or am I just overly concerned?

MINDELL:
Many people twitch in their sleep and it's meaningless. If the movements, though, look the same every time it could be periodic limb movements in sleep, which is a rhythmic kicking of the legs. Often people sleep well with this type of sleep problem, but it can cause arousals during the night, which will make him feel tired the next day.

A rarer likelihood is that it's a seizure, but nighttime seizures usually only occur once per night and rarely every night.

"I think it's vitally important that parents make sleep a priority for their children and for themselves."

MEMBER QUESTION:
My 2-year-old daughter snores and often has irregular breathing while sleeping. When she was 6 months old I asked the doctor about her irregular breathing and he said it is normal among infants. My husband is currently being evaluated for
sleep apnea. Should I be concerned about my daughter?

MINDELL:
There is a chance that she has sleep apnea. Your doctor is right that irregular breathing in young infants is rarely a concern, but now that she is 2 the likelihood of apnea increases.

If she's snoring, having difficulty breathing or has breathing pauses when she's asleep, definitely talk to your doctor again. In children, sleep apnea is usually caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids and the problem is solved once they are removed.

MODERATOR:
Dr. Mindell, any final words for us?

MINDELL:
I think it's vitally important that parents make sleep a priority for their children and for themselves. As your grandmother told you, adults really need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, and getting that amount will help you be the parent that you want.

Also getting your child the help that he or she needs will help her function at her best during the day to keep her happy, growing, and learning.

For lots more information about children's sleep and parents' sleep, check out my newly revised book Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep. The book came out two weeks ago and I'm very excited about all the changes and additional information I was able to provide. Pleasant dreams.



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