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Sleepless Kids Are Troubled Kids
Date:8/26/2007

Medicine found that youngsters with sleep apnea scored lower on standard IQ tests compared with unaffected kids -- an average of 85 points vs. 100, respectively.

Left untreated, sleep apnea might even permanently damage cognitive function, the researchers said. "We can only assume that it could turn an otherwise smart kid into a mediocre kid," lead investigator Dr. Ann Halbower, of the John Hopkins University Children Center, told HealthDay.

But there are other sleep woes affecting children, including insomnia, night terrors, and frequent awakenings and sleepwalking.

Many can be fixed with simple behavioral changes at home, Mindell said. Those steps include:

  • Setting firm schedules. "Get them to bed the same time every night and wake them up the same time every morning," Mindell said. "This sets a child's internal clock and makes it so they'll get sleepy easier and fall asleep easier."
  • Create a bedtime routine. Implementing a "wind-down" time before bed, perhaps 20 to 30 minutes each night, helps kids of all ages settle down and ready their minds and bodies for sleep, Mindell said.
  • Ban electronics from the bedroom. According to polls, 97 percent of U.S. kids have some kind of electronic distraction -- TV, cell phone, computer, Gameboy -- in their rooms. "That has a major impact on sleep," Mindell said. "We want to get kid's bedrooms unplugged."
  • Limit caffeine. This doesn't mean only coffee -- it's ice tea, plus dark- and light-colored sodas. "For some kids it takes much longer to metabolize caffeine," Mindell said. "So, that ice tea at 3 o'clock in the afternoon can still be keeping them up at 10 p.m."
  • Make sleep-time a solo affair. Kids who get used to a parent being with them as they drift off will need that parent every time they seek slumber. "So, if you're lying down with your 5-year-old at bedtime, be prepared to be
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