Children's Sleep QualityParents agree that sleep is important for their children, but what can parents do to ensure that kids get enough quality hours of sleep? A study from Penn State analyzed how different family behaviors impact children’s sleep. The results show that keeping a regular sleep schedule and restricting caffeine consumption, among other things, can help children get enough sleep.

For the study, researchers lead the 2014 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll, called “Sleep in the Modern Family.” The purpose of the study was to explore how family circumstances affect school-aged children’s sleep quality and sleep duration. The researchers evaluated households with children aged 6 to 17. Over 1,100 Parents and guardians participated in online interviews.

Most parents reported that they think sleep is important, but the study found that 90 percent of children did not sleep the full amount recommended for their age. Certain factors were significant predictors of whether children slept enough, including parent education levels, strictly enforced household rules about caffeine, and the presence of devices like iPads in their bedroom. Consistent schedules also correlated to getting age-appropriate amounts of sleep.

The study revealed a number of reasons for poor sleep, including overbooked family schedules, technology in the bedroom, and noisy neighborhoods. The researchers suggest that supporting good sleep hygiene should be the focus of public health interventions for good sleep. Not sleeping enough can lead to behavior, health, and academic problems for school-aged children.

Orfeu Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health and leader of the study, explains that sleep happens in the context of daily life. “An important consequence of our modern-day, 24/7 society is that it is difficult for families—children and caregivers both—to get adequate sleep. Sleep in the family context frames sleep as involving interactions between all members of a household and interactions with the environment of the home as well as exogenous factors like work or school affecting any member.”

This research is published in Sleep Health.

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