Could we pass on our sleep issues to our daughter?

Q: My three-year-old daughter wakes up several times throughout the night. She has never slept through a whole night. Both her father and I suffer from sleep disorders. Is it possible that she has inherited this from us? Sometimes she wakes up and she will be up for several hours at a time before returning to bed. Is there anything I can do to help her?

A: First of all, talk to your pediatrician and/or a pediatric sleep specialist who can help determine what is going on with your daughter and whether she has an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome. This is especially the case if there is a family history of sleep problems. There are also some behavioral things that you can do to help everyone sleep better. First of all, have a set waketime every morning and do not let her sleep in too much, even if she was awake during the night. This will help consolidate her sleep into one block at night. Also, you can install a “good morning light” in her bedroom. A good morning light is simply a nightlight on a timer that is set to turn on in the morning. When the light turns on, then it’s time to get up for the day. If the light is still off, it will let her know that it is still nighttime and she needs to stay in bed.

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