What's keeping your child up, or waking him in the middle of the night, is surprisingly easy to fix. "Most sleep problems are caused by bad habits," says Dr. Mindell. Bring on the zzz's with these steps.
- Cut caffeine from your kid's diet. According to the NSF, 26 percent of children ages 3 and older drink at least one caffeinated beverage per day -- and consequently lose 30 minutes of sleep nightly. But cola isn't the only culprit: Kids can get a caffeine buzz from chocolate and some orange soda too.
- Banish TVs from the bedroom. Kids who have TVs in their rooms go to bed 20 minutes later, losing more than two hours of sleep weekly, the NSF poll found.
- Make books part of the bedtime routine. Children who read or are read to are most likely to get enough shut-eye. "Reading is calming and conducive to sleep," says Dr. Mindell.
- Leave your baby or toddler's room when she's drowsy but not out. Everyone naturally wakes during the night, but young children who are used to being sung to or patted on the back as they drift off won't be able to fall back asleep on their own.
- Be alert for health-related symptoms. Loud snoring, mouth breathing, and gasping can signal sleep apnea. Consult your child's doctor; enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be to blame, but surgery can help. Also call the pediatrician if you notice your child's leg muscles rhythmically twitching during sleep or he complains of a creepy-crawly sensation in his legs, which could indicate restless legs syndrome.
Age by Age Sleep Needs:
2 to 12 months: 14 to 15 hours
12 months to 3 years: 12 to 14 hours
3 to 6 years: 11 to 13 hours
6 to 12 years: 10 to 11 hours
12 to 18 years: 8.5 to 9.5 hours