Bedtime Rules Key to Better Sleep for Children

Mar 3, 2014

Cortlandt Manor NY

Bedtime Rules Key to Better Sleep for Children

America’s children don’t get enough sleep and parents need to do more to control electronics and regulate bedtimes, according to a poll released this week by the National Sleep Foundation.

National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) Sleep in America® poll, an annual study that began in 1991, delved into the sleep practices and beliefs of the modern family with school-aged children. The online poll, conducted Dec. 12-13 2013, surveyed 1,103 American parents with children aged 6-17.

"For children, a good night’s sleep is essential to health, development and performance in school," said Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, University of Chicago. "We found that when parents take action to protect their children’s sleep, their children sleep better."

March 3-10 is National Sleep Awareness Week when health professionals focus on the important role that sleep plays in overall health. Chronic lack of sleep may be caused by sleep disorders that affect our immune systems’ ability to fight disease. Lack of sleep can also lead to serious health risks and other medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke or weight gain.

The Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital performs sleep studies that can help diagnose more than 80 sleep disorders including the more common disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, insomnia, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

The center is offering free sleep evaluations during March. Take a sleep quiz to find out if you may have a sleep disorder.

Many children are not getting the sleep they need

Many children get less sleep on school nights than they should, with some getting less sleep than their own parents think they need. The poll asked parents to estimate how much sleep their child typically gets on a school night. Parents’ estimates of sleep time are 8.9 hours for children ages 6 to 10, 8.2 hours for 11 and 12 year olds, 7.7 hours for 13 and 14 year olds and 7.1 hours for teens ages 15 through 17.

The NSF recommends that children ages 6 to 10 get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, and that children in the other three age groups get 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night.

Turning electronics off while sleeping makes a difference

Electronic devices are pervasive in modern American children’s bedrooms. Parents report that nearly three out of four (72 percent) children ages 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in the bedroom while they are sleeping.

Children who leave electronic devices on at night get less sleep on school nights than other children do, according to parents’ estimates – a difference of up to nearly one hour on average per night.

"To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime," said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School.

Evening activities and homework can affect sleep quality

The modern family’s busy schedule affects their sleep quality. More than one-third (34 percent) of parents report that scheduled evening activities pose challenges to their child getting a good night’s sleep and even more (41 percent) point to these activities as challenging their own good night’s sleep. One in four (28 percent) parents report that in the last seven days, homework made it more difficult for their child to get a good night’s sleep.

"Sometimes performing better in fewer activities can be a healthy trade for too many activities while fatigued," said Hawley Montgomery-Downs, PhD, West Virginia University.

Enforcing rules helps children get more sleep

When parents set and enforce sleep rules, children sleep longer. Nearly all (92 percent) parents set one or more sleep-related rules for their children and 62 percent of parents say they always enforce at least one

To learn more about sleep and your health, speak to our NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital health professionals on Saturday, March 8 from 11 to 4 p.m. at the Premier Athletic Club Health and Wellness Fair, 2127 Albany Post Road, Montrose or at the Hudson Valley Gateway Experience on Saturday, March 22 at the Mansion at Colonial Terrace, 119 Oregon Road, Cortlandt Manor. For a free sleep evaluation, call 914-734-3840.

Editor’s Note: The full 2014 Sleep in America® annual poll report is available for download at

NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the community and to providing quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner, without regard to race, religion, national origin or disease category. Offering state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment, education and preventive services, the Hospital is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. In fulfilling this mission, the Hospital will strive to continuously improve the care provided and develop and offer programs, facilities, systems and alliances that most effectively respond to community health care needs. NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is located on Route 202 (1980 Crompond Road) in Cortlandt Manor, New York. Call 914-737-9000 or visit