(BPT) - Despite parents' best efforts, bedtime can be the most stressful time of the day. Many kids fight sleep and resist going to bed, and questions of "but why do I have to go to bed?" are often answered with an unsatisfying, "Because I said so!"
To help eliminate bedtime frustrations, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends parents take the following steps to positively influence their child's sleep habits:
Keep a bedtime routine. A consistent routine (10 to 15 minutes long) - brushing teeth, changing into pajamas and reading a book - helps children go from alert and active to a quieter state, giving them the ability to fall asleep on their own.
Focus on timing. Kids who go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning sleep better and have fewer night wakings. Studies also show that kids who go to bed around the same time each day have fewer behavior problems and perform better in school.
"Research has shown consistent bedtimes and bedtime routines encourage cognitive development," says Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the AASM. "Educating children on necessary sleep health and establishing effective bedtime routines will help foster healthier lifestyles as they grow into adolescents and adults - reducing the epidemic of insufficient sleep in America."