National Sleep Foundation 2014 Sleep In America Poll Finds Children Sleep Better When Parents Establish Rules, Limit Technology and Set a Good Example

Date:
Monday, March 3, 2014

Enforcing rules helps children get more sleep

When parents set and enforce sleep rules, children sleep longer. Nearly all (92 percent) parents set one or more sleep-related rules for their children and 62 percent of parents say they always enforce at least one of these rules. Children get more sleep when parents have rules about bedtime (children sleep an average of 1.1 hours more than children whose parents do not have such rules), how late the child can have caffeine drinks (0.7 hours more than those without rules) or how late the child can watch TV (0.6 hours more than those without rules). 

Regular enforcement of established rules is even more effective at improving children’s sleep. For example, when parents always enforce rules on how late their child can have caffeine drinks, their child gets an estimated average of 0.9 hours more sleep than children whose parents enforce such rules less consistently or do not have those rules at all. When parents always enforce rules on how late smartphones and cell phones can be used, children get an estimated average of 0.8 hours more sleep. 

“A good first step in setting and enforcing sleep-related rules is to establish bedtimes,” said Jim Spilsbury, PhD, MPH, Case Western Reserve University. 

Setting a good example encourages children to follow suit

Children whose parents have healthy sleep environments tend to have healthier sleep environments themselves. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of children whose parents have one or more “interactive” electronics (tablet or smartphone, laptop or desktop computer, and/or video game) in their bedroom also have at least one device in their own bedroom. Only 24 percent of children have a device in their bedroom if their parent does not.

“Parents need to be good role models in their responsible use of electronics and their children will follow suit,” said Monique K. LeBourgeois, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder.

“The modern family is more connected and busier than ever, making parenting a more daunting challenge than it ever has been,” said Helene A. Emsellem, MD, The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders and George Washington University Medical