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 


Establish a sleep routine that benefits all family members. Plan a strategy that works and is supported by another adult, if pres- ent, in the home. Set a daily routine focused on a regular, consistent bedtime, and stick with it. A good litmus test that your routine is working is that kids fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of getting into bed, awaken easily in the morning and are not nodding off late in the afternoon. Most importantly, you should model healthy sleep behaviors by getting a good night’s sleep, too!


  Multiple studies confirm that once TV is on in the bedroom, it is turned off later than it should be, limiting sleep hours. Addition- ally, artificial light exposure between dusk and the time you go to bed makes it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), mela- tonin — a natural hormone that helps you fall asleep — is reduced in the presence of blue light emitted from TV, cell phones and other technology devices. Reducing mela- tonin levels makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. The best practice from an early age is to avoid technology in the bedroom.


  Important to a good night’s sleep — for infants, children and adults — is setting the right temperature. For optimal sleep, it is important to keep the temperature cool- er and constant. Bedrooms should be kept at a slightly lower temperature than the living space rooms, ideally between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the NSF recommends that you consider investing


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in a humidifier during the colder months and/or a dehumidifier during the hotter months, depending on your climate, for a healthier sleeping environment. For good sleep for all, keep bedroom humidity levels around 50 percent year-round. Most importantly, silence is the best sleep aid. Noisy neighbors or a noisy house may keep children awake, so using a white noise machine or soothing quite music to lull kids to sleep may be helpful.


 Signs of sleep struggles may indicate a problem to take to your healthcare provider. If your child has trouble falling asleep, wakes up frequently at night, snores loudly, has trouble breathing or has loud and heavy breathing while asleep or stalls and resists going to bed, consult your provider. If your child demonstrates behaviors such as being overtired, sleepy or cranky during the day, be sure to schedule an appointment with your provider.


 Sometimes a snack an hour before bed- time will help children sleep. Extra fruit or vegetables or foods that combine protein and carbs — such as toast with natural peanut butter, or cereal and milk — form amino acids that act like tryptophan, the chemical that makes you feel sleepy after a turkey dinner. Other foods that aid sleep include yogurt, cheese and bananas. A predictable bedtime routine is likely to


calm your kids (and you!), and help them drift off to dreamland more peacefully.


Christina Calamaro, PhD, CRNP, is a prac- ticing PNP and a researcher in sleep and pediatrics.


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