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by by J.C. Blader, Ph.D., H. S. Koplewicz, MD, H. Abilkoff, Ph.D.,
and C. A. Foley, MD The American Psychological Association

Although there has been abundant research on the sleep problems of preschoolers, little has been done to date involving elementary school children. Researchers from the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, are presenting the results of a survey of the parents of 987 children age five to 12 about their children's sleeping habits.

The most common problem reported by the parents was bedtime resistance (27% had marked bedtime resistance at least three days a week). Other common problems were delays in falling asleep after going to bed (11.3%), difficulty staying asleep (6.5%), difficulty waking up in the morning (17%) and child complaining of fatigue (17%). While the researchers note that "conventional wisdom" holds that bedtime struggles among school-age children "result mainly from deficiencies in limit-setting practices," their data suggest that for a significant subgroup of bedtime-resistant children, there may be more going on than rebelliousness. "These children differ from those with bedtime resistance alone by more anxiety- related features (fearfulness, night waking, need for caregiver proximity), fatigue complaints and early histories of disrupted sleep."

The bottom line, the researchers say, is that while consistent, parent-enforced bedtimes may be helpful for many bedtime-resistent children, those among them who take a longer time falling asleep and have a history of troubled sleep may experience even more distress if parents try to strictly enforce bedtimes.


The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 159,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 50 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.


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