Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children and Teenagers

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

Quick GuideTop Reasons Children Can't Sleep in Pictures

Top Reasons Children Can't Sleep in Pictures

What are some "don'ts" for getting my child or teen to sleep?

These "don'ts" are adapted from "Sleep Problems: Your Child" University of Michigan Health Care System.

  1. Don't put your child to bed with a bottle of juice, milk or formula. Sugar in such drinks promotes tooth decay. Water is acceptable.
  2. Don't fill up the bed with toys. Limit the crib/bed to one to two "special" items. Too many items are over stimulating and the child will have a hard time not playing with them. Eliminate any object that might be a safety hazard.
  3. Don't threaten to send your child to bed as a punishment. Bedtime should be an enjoyable experience that will promote falling asleep in a timely fashion.
  4. Avoid caffeine before bed: Caffeinated drinks such as cola, chocolate, iced tea, energy drinks, etc.
  5. Limit TV in the afternoon and at night. TV stimulation may carry on longer than you suspect. Having a TV in a child's room may be counterproductive to getting your child or teen to sleep. A 2014 National Sleep Foundation study indicates that 72% of children 6 years old to 17 years old have at least one electronic device in their bedroom. These children may get up to one hour less sleep per night as their peers without such devices in the bedroom.

Medically reviewed by Peter O’Connor, M.D.; American Board of Otolaryngology with subspecialty in Sleep Medicine


"Teens Not Getting Enough Zzzz’s." American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated Feb. 2, 2015.

"Pediatric Sleep Disorders." Medscape. Updated Apr. 11, 2014.

National Sleep Foundation.

Nguyen, Thien T., MD, PhD. "Nonepileptic paroxysmal disorders in adolescents and adults." UpToDate. Updated Sep. 14, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016

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