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Q: How much sleep does my child need?

Posted July 31, 2013 in Adel, Advice Column

A: A good night’s sleep is as important to your child as a hearty breakfast. A whopping 69 percent of U.S. kids have one or more sleep problems a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). This can make it tough for your child to solve problems and memorize lessons, which can lower grades and self-esteem. The best cure is a consistent bedtime schedule. Stick to a bedtime that permits this amount of nightly sleep:

Eleven to 13 hours for a 3- to 5-year-old child. Preschoolers often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, the NSF says. Children this age also are more likely to have nightmares and sleep terrors and to sleepwalk.

Ten to 11 hours for a school-aged child. Schoolchildren spend time with TV, computers, and the Internet, all of which can erode time for sleep. This age group also may be drinking caffeinated beverages, which can affect the ease of falling asleep at night. Too little sleep can lead to mood swings and behavioral and cognitive problems, the NSF says.

Unplug the bedroom. Turn off TVs, computers and cell phones. Better yet, keep such things out of the bedroom, which should be a stimulation-free zone. Set a wind-down routine. Start the transition to sleep with dimmed lights and a warm bath; end with reading a book. Avoid watching TV just before bedtime. Go decaf. Drinking any caffeine during the day affects sound sleep. Get help. If your child still resists bedtime, has nighttime awakenings or snores, talk with your doctor.

Information provided by Jane Clausen, Adel Health Mart, 113 N. Ninth St., 993-3644.

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