Objective: To examine the associations between sleep hygiene and sleep patterns in children ages newborn to 10 years. The relationships between key features of good sleep hygiene in childhood and recognizable outcomes have not been studied in large, nationally representative samples.
Participants and methods: A national poll of 1473 parents/caregivers of children ages newborn to 10 years was conducted in 2004. The poll included questions on sleep hygiene (poor sleep hygiene operationally defined as not having a consistent bedtime routine, bedtime after 9:00 PM, having a parent present when falling asleep at bedtime, having a television in the bedroom, and consuming caffeinated beverages daily) and sleep patterns (sleep onset latency, frequency of night wakings, and total sleep time).
Results: Across all ages, a late bedtime and having a parent present when the child falls asleep had the strongest negative association with reported sleep patterns. A late bedtime was associated with longer sleep onset latency and shorter total sleep time, whereas parental presence was associated with more night wakings. Those children (ages 3+) without a consistent bedtime routine also were reported to obtain less sleep. Furthermore, a television in the bedroom (ages 3+) and regular caffeine consumption (ages 5+) were associated with shorter total sleep time.
Conclusions: Overall, this study found that good sleep hygiene practices are associated with better sleep across several age ranges. These findings support the importance of common US based recommendations that children of all ages should fall asleep independently, go to bed before 9:00 PM, have an established bedtime routine, include reading as part of their bedtime routine, refrain from caffeine, and sleep in bedrooms without televisions.