About 70 per cent of children have trouble sleeping and almost one-third of those are medicated by their parents to help them, according to a new study by the Canadian Paediatric Society.
The parents were asked about their children’s sleep problems and whether they medicate them for it.
“It’s pretty high, 70 per cent,” said Wendy Hall, a nursing professor and a University of British Columbia researcher.
What is alarming for Hall is that 30 per cent of the parents reported that they were medicating their children with over-the-counter melatonin or Tylenol.
Hall has studied child sleep for over a decade and says most parents won’t need to look to medication for help, they just need to practice good sleep hygiene with their children.
She says some common mistakes parents make are:
1. Putting the child to sleep somewhere and then moving them
“That can cause the children to wake up during the night fully, if they come into a light sleep state because that is not where they went to bed,” she said.
2. Not having regular sleep routines
Children who have trouble sleeping often don’t have regular sleep routines.
Hall says the same sleep routines should be used for naps as well.
3. Not sleeping by 9:00 p.m.
She says it’s important that the latest a child goes to bed is 9:00 p.m.
4. Bottles right before bedtime.
Hall says parents shouldn’t give children a bottle right before bedtime.
“Because then children associate feeding and sleeping and can end up waking themselves up in the middle of the night,” she said.