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Why Your Child Can't Sleep

From the Show: Staying Well
Summary: Physicians and psychologists estimate that as many as 30% of children may have a sleep disorder at some point during childhood.
Air Date: 5/12/14
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Beth Ann Malow, MD
Malow Beth Beth Malow, MD, MS, is a Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and holds the Burry Endowed Chair in Cognitive Childhood Development.

She is also Chief of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Division. Dr Malow received her MD degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

She completed residency training in Neurology at the Harvard-Longwood Program in Boston, Massachusetts, followed by fellowship training in epilepsy, EEG, and sleep medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

She was an Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2003.

Dr Malow's clinical, educational, and research programs focus on the impact of treating sleep disorders on health. She treats children and adults throughout the lifespan. Her own research has emphasized the interface of sleep and autism.

Dr. Malow is the principal investigator for Vanderbilt's Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (AS ATN) site, one of 17 autism centers across North America funded to develop standards of medical care for children with autism.

She is a frequently invited speaker at national and international seminars and conferences focusing on sleep, autism and health.
Why Your Child Can't Sleep
You know the importance of a good night's sleep, but in all reality, you're probably still able to function if you've gotten less than five hours.

Your child isn't so lucky.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, your child will spend about 40 percent of childhood asleep. Sleep is crucial during this time period, as it directly impacts mental and physical development.

Does your child have a difficult time sleeping?

Physicians and psychologists estimate that as many as 30 percent of children may have a sleep disorder at some point during childhood. Sleep disorders have implications for both social-emotional adjustment and for school performance. Some sleep disturbances are mild, fairly common, and fairly easy to treat. However, other disturbances might be harder to address.

What might be the reasons why your child can't sleep?

There are many reasons why your child could be having a hard time falling asleep. You may think stress is something that only occurs in adults, but your child could be just as stressed as you are at the end of the day.

What are some ways you can help promote healthy sleep?

Depending on what relaxes your child, you can draw a warm bath before bed; place lavender or chamomile scents around the bedroom or read a nighttime story. NEVER let your child unwind in front of a TV, computer or Smartphone. Just a little light can disrupt the natural melatonin levels in your child's brain, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.

If you notice the problem of inconsistent sleep is occurring in your child for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

What are the consequences if these unhealthy sleep patterns are left untreated?

Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, Beth Malow, MD, MS, shares why your child is having trouble getting and staying asleep and when it's time to take your child to the doctor.