Children from a lower socioeconomic environment have worse sleeping patterns than children from middle class status.
Excessive daytime sleepiness due to poor sleep the night before may have a negative impact on a child's academic performance and also put them at risk for developing health problems, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Sanjeev V. Kothare, MD, of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, was focused on a total of 64 children, who were brought in by their parents for either an acute illness or well child visit. The parents were asked to fill out a standardized 35-item Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire, which examines various sleeping behaviors including bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, night awakenings, parasomnias, sleep disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness. Each category is scored, with higher scores indicating poorer sleeping patterns.
When compared to middle-class children, healthy children from a lower socioeconomic class had significantly higher values for bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, night awakenings, parasomnias, sleep disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness.
"This study highlights the importance of screening for sleeping problems in children from an inner city population," said Dr. Kothare. "Many of these problems are under-recognized, and may impact the health and performance of these children at school. Timely and appropriate intervention strategies may help in ameliorating some of these problems. Additional multi-centric studies need to be performed to validate results and provide further understanding of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of these sleeping problems."
Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Experts recommend that children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, and school-aged children between 10-11 hours of sleep a night.
A child should follow these steps to get a good night's sleep:
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
- Get a full night's sleep every night.
- Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
- Do not go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime either.
- The bedroom should be quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their child's pediatrician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.