Researchers studied sleep routine practices and their associations with sleep duration and quality in children from six months to 18 years old.
A good quality sleep every night helps children effectively learn and develop. Children who do not get quality sleep every night are more likely to develop slower, learn poorly at school, have behavioural difficulties, and develop the risk of weight gain or obesity. In fact, about 30% of infants and children experience poor sleep patterns. Due to this, educational programs and interventions on sleep routine are highly recommended for parents and children.
In a study published by Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, researchers searched through six electronic databases to assess sleep routine practices and their associations with sleep duration and quality in children from six months to 18 years old. This study was completed between June and August of 2017 and reviewed 44 studies. These studies focused on four age groups: infants and toddlers (six months to two years), preschoolers (three years to five years), school-aged children (six years to 12 years), and adolescents (13 years to 18 years). Out of the 44 articles, they included results from 16 countries.
Infants and toddlers
Findings showed that watching one hour or more of television before bed resulted in short sleep duration for infants and toddlers, who were six months to two years old. Although the researchers did not come across any studies that showed an improvement in sleep duration, there were many sleep hygiene methods that were suggested to help improve sleep quality. These methods include bedtime routines, self-soothing, bedtime fading, camping out, and sleep diaries.
Using electronic devices and having a hot or cold room affected preschoolers’ sleep length. Bedtime routines helped preschoolers (three to five years old) fall asleep faster, avoid night waking, and improved sleep length. To help with sleep length, reading before bedtime was suggested.
Using electronic devices in the evening and before bed had a negative impact on school-aged children’s sleep duration. The findings showed that mould exposure and dampness in the home affected sleep duration and night waking. Also, homework time and school commutes affected sleep duration. Interestingly, milk drinks were used to help with decreased night waking. Sleep education programs, interventions, and cognitive therapy have been suggested for improving sleep quality.
In children 13 to 18 years old, the results showed that electronic exposure in the evening and before bed, and caffeine intake throughout the day affected adolescents’ sleep duration. A longer school commute and homework time also resulted in shorter sleep duration. Physical activity in the day, and spending time with family in the evening improved sleep time. Furthermore, cutting off cell phone use after 9:00 pm improved adolescents’ bedtime routine and helped them fall asleep faster.
A limitation to this study was the inconsistencies in sleep results. There were also inconsistent measurements of some sleep patterns.
For both parents and children, an understanding of sleep hygiene is low. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that either help or negatively affect sleep time and quality. Educational programs and interventions are suggested to inform parents and teachers about the importance of sleep routine and sleep quality.
Overall, the study highlights the importance of good sleep routines for children. For future studies, consistent measurements of sleep are needed for dependable results and further understanding. Future studies are crucial to in order to comprehend the relationship between sleep routine and sleep quality.
Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer
- Hall, Wendy A., Nethery, Elizabeth. “What Does Sleep Hygiene Have to Offer Children’s Sleep Problems?” Paediatric Respiratory Reviews. 2018. 1-43. Online.
- New review highlights importance of good sleep routines in children. 2018, https://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/03/new-review-highlights-importance-of-good-sleep-routines-for-children/, assessed 13 Dec. 2018.