Finding the right bed time for your toddler

5:55 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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BOULDER - When you put your toddler to bed could be setting them up for a lifetime of sleep problems.

A new study out of CU-Boulder shows that not all kids are biologically ready for bed at the same time:

The team, led by assistant professor Monique LeBourgeois, studied 14 families with children between 30 and 36 months old in Providence, R.I. Over the course of six days, researchers called "sleep fairies" swabbed the children's mouths throughout the night to test levels of the hormone melatonin. An increase in each child's melatonin level indicated the start of that child's "biological night."

The study found that the more time passed between the melatonin release and when the kids were put to bed, the faster they fell asleep.

About 25 percent of toddlers and preschoolers have a hard time settling down after they're put to bed. This can result in everything from bedtime tantrums to kids calling out from their beds or even coming out of the bedrooms.

In the long run, early sleep trouble can lead to behavior issues in later childhood and sleep problems like insomnia as an adult.

While it's not practical to test melatonin levels in all kids, LeBourgeois says the practical result of her research is arming parents with information. She says if your kids are fighting their bedtime, they may not be biologically ready at the time you've chosen. You can help make things better by making good choices about what your child does before bed and making sure they have the right environment for sleep.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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