Are You Missing This Important Supplement for Childhood Behavioral Problems?

Behavioral problems in children often start during the preschool years.  Making sure that kids have a healthy, balanced diet, as well as plenty of physical activity, can make a big difference in kids’ behavior.  One “supplement” that is becoming more overlooked these days is one of the foundations of health in naturopathic medicine: sleep.

Recent research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City (1) examined almost 9000 preschool aged children, and looked at the relationship between sleep and behavior.  They found that kids who average fewer than 9.44 hours of sleep per night have a 30 to 40% higher rate of anger, impulsivity, overactivity, and tantrums.  Significantly, these kids were also 80% more likely to be aggressive.  More than two hours of television viewing per night was also associated with worse overall behavior.

Inadequate sleep for adults may result in mood problems, increased pain sensitivity, and even a greater risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Now, we have further evidence of just one more way that sleep is critical for kids as well.  Follow these guidelines to ensure a good nights rest for your little ones:

  • Stick with a scheduled bedtime and wake-up time.  Aim for at least 10 hours of sleep per night.  So if the kids have to be up at 7 AM, make sure they’re in bed by 9 PM.
  • Turn off all screens (TV, computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.) at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark to make falling asleep easier.
  • If your child is having trouble falling asleep, consult your naturopathic physician before trying any sleep aid — even natural ones.

1.  Scharf RJ et al.  Nighttime Sleep Duration and Externalizing Behaviors of Preschool Children.  J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2013;34:384-391.

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