Decoded: Why most parents can't make their kids to sleep at ease

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS): One in four parents find it difficult to put their children to sleep at ease as they are worried or anxious themselves and rely on strategies that may increase sleep challenges long term, a new study showed on Monday.

These parents are less likely to have a bedtime routine, more likely to leave on a video or TV show, and more likely to stay with their child until they’re asleep, according to researchers in the US.

One in five parents give young children melatonin to help with sleep while one in three stay in the room until their child falls asleep, according to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital ‘National Poll on Children’s Health’.

Although melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and may be fine to use occasionally, parents shouldn’t rely on it as a primary sleep aid,” said scientists.

"Our report reinforces the common struggle of getting young children to sleep. When this transition to bedtime becomes a nightly conflict, some parents may fall into habits that work at the moment but could set them up for more sleep issues down the road,” said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark.

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is crucial. When children don’t get enough rest, it can impact their physical development, emotional regulation and behaviour, the scientists warned.

More than a third of parents say their child wakes up upset or crying, with more than 40 per cent saying their child moves to their parents’ bed and about 30 per cent saying children insist that the parents sleep in their room.

Many parents also use a nightlight or crack the bedroom door so the child isn’t in complete darkness, but parents should make sure the light does not shine directly at the child’s face.

Some parents also play calming music or stories to help their child go to sleep, while others use a white noise machine or app.

Parents who are considering giving melatonin to their young child should consult with their paediatrician to discuss options and rule out other causes of sleep problems first.

In addition, it's important to keep electronics such as tablets or televisions out of children’s bedrooms, as the blue light emitted by many of these screens interferes with the natural production of melatonin.

“Families can incorporate comforting rituals to help transform nighttime fears into a calming experience,” Clark said.


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