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1 in 4 Parents Say Their Child Can't Sleep Due to Worry and Anxiety: Survey

A recent national poll by  Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children's Hospital indicates that many bedtime arguments stem from children's worries at night, with one in four parents saying their child struggles to sleep because they are anxious or stressed.

While bedtime routines are common in many families, some of them could be aggravating chronic sleep issues. The poll indicates that parents who struggle to put their kids to bed seldom ever maintain a schedule. Many times, parents stay with their children until they go to bed, leaving the TV or video on. Our results indicate that many parents have trouble getting their small children to sleep. "When this battle over bedtime happens every night, some parents may fall into bad habits that help in the short term but could lead to more sleep problems in the long term," said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark.

Clark underlines the need to keep a regular bedtime schedule. "Insufficient sleep can affect children's behaviour, emotional control, and physical development."

In all, 781 parents of children between the ages of one and six answered the survey. Almost one in five parents give melatonin to their children to aid in sleep. A third of parents stay in the room with their kids until they fall asleep.

About 25% of parents say that worry or anxiety causes their child to sleep later than usual. A third or more of parents say their child wakes up crying or upset. Thirty per cent of parents report that their child moves to their bed and forty per cent report that their child won't sleep with anyone else.

"Many small children go through stages when they become scared of the dark or worry that something bad might happen," he said. "Another way to interfere with sleep is to have bad dreams or wake up in the middle of the night."

Clark believes that parents should establish boundaries while still reassuring and comforting their children to ensure that everyone gets enough sleep.

Before sending their kids to bed, most parents routinely brush their teeth. read stories, and take a bath. Not even half of them say they pray, have a snack or drink of water, put down their electronics, and talk about their day. Clark says kids feel safer and more at ease when they follow a routine.

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