Sleeping baby

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is an essential part of our well-being, especially for toddlers who are still growing and developing. Too much sleep can worsen their sleep patterns, and negatively impact weight and intellectual and emotional development.

Now a new long-term study further supports the importance for toddlers to get just the right amount of shut-eye. Researchers found that toddlers who slept less than 10 hours per night (or who woke up frequently) usually had more behavioral and emotional problems by the time they were 5 years old.

For the study, more than 30,000 mothers filled out questionnaires about their child's sleep behaviors at three points in their lives: when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when their child was 18-months-old, and when the child turned 5-years-old. A total of 99 behaviors were ranked on a scale from "not true" to "very true." Mothers also answered how long their children slept per day and how often the children woke up during the night.

Almost 60 percent of toddlers slept for 13 to 14 hours while two percent slept less than 10 hours a night. But the findings were consistent in revealing that toddlers who slept less than 13 hours and woke up more than three times every night struggled with impulse control, emotional instability, anxiety, and depression. Despite the difficult temperament, toddlers may not develop mental health issues later in life.

However, the latest research confirms the importance of getting your toddler into a routine of a healthy sleep schedule -- if you're having problems, don't hesitate to talk to your child's pediatrician.

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Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Image: Sleeping baby via Shutterstock