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Helping children sleep


Sleep problems in children are very common and affect both the child and parents. The common problems are bedtime resistance, delayed sleep onset and frequent night waking. This review summarises current non-pharmacological practices and intervention options to aid healthy children sleep. Children may benefit from good sleep hygiene practices, which include a consistent routine for bed and consistent bedtime, a quiet darkened and warm bedroom, a consistent wake time and daytime exercise. In more problematic cases children benefit from a sleep programme. Programmes are many and effective, and include extinction or extinction-based procedures, and scheduled awakenings. An extinction programme alone, although highly effective, is difficult for parents to comply with. Modifications of the extinction programme show promise but need further evaluation. Identifying and managing sleep problems in childhood may improve health, including emotional well-being, in adolescence and adulthood.

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