1 in 4 parents say their young child has bedtime anxiety, new poll finds

When her daughter was 6 years old, Kelceymarie Warner began to notice her child’s hesitation before bedtime. “Her body would be a little more tense, and she would hyperventilate if you pushed the subject too soon, she really needed to be slowly moved into the cycle.”

Warner, who is a parent to four young daughters, believes that sticking to a nightly routine is the best way for her kids to have an easy transition to bedtime. But when her 6-year-old was experiencing bedtime anxiety, Warner had to make some additions to her routine.

“We know that young children really resonate with consistency and routine, and getting ready for bed helps their body and their brain know that this is the time to start winding down,” said Dr. Lauren Hartstein, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Arizona. She studies sleep and circadian health in early childhood and was not involved in the Mott poll.

Hartstein recommends limiting media use at night, especially avoiding exciting content that could stimulate the child’s brain and make it harder to wind down.

A January 2022 study that Hartstein led found that children around this age group were more sensitive to light at night than adults are, and it could interfere with a child’s production of natural melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Parents could find it beneficial to dim the lights an hour before bed, which would trigger a mental cue that it’s time to get ready to sleep soon, she added.

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Release Date: 
06/17/2024 - 10:00am
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