Child sleep needs leave many parents guessing

 
By Laura Mize • Published: July 15th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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How much sleep do your kids really need?

Many parents and grandparents don’t actually know. A New Zealand study published by the journal Sleep Medicine shows that one in four adults underestimate the amount of sleep children need, while about one in five overestimate it. Only about half the adults in the study correctly estimated the recommended amount of sleep for their progeny.

The data came from a survey administered at a children’s hospital to parents and grandparents of children ages 2 through 12. Those with younger children were more likely to accurately estimate the amount of sleep needed.

Many also reported a variety of obstacles to children getting the correct amount of sleep. The most common interruptions were reading books in the evening and late meals. Others included visitors in the home and child illness.

The survey results also shed light on the sources caregivers use to find information about children’s sleep needs. Those who were most accurate in their assessments tended to use books and Internet sources. Those who reported incorrect ideas about children’s sleep were more likely to cite relatives, friends and radio programs as helpful.

Other predictors of accurate sleep estimates were caregivers’ income and education. Those with more education and greater income tended to have better information.

But that certainly doesn’t mean a good understanding of sleep depends on a high-paying job or fancy degrees. Parents who need to brush up on their knowledge can access books and websites from a local library. After all, it’s a worthy pursuit. No one likes to live with a cranky child.