But parents also might be missing that a child's crankiness or hyperactivity may stem from sleep problems, according to Lisa Meltzer, a psychologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's sleep center. She's the lead researcher of a new study in Pediatrics, which examined the medical records of 154,957 children who went to the pediatrician for a well-child visit in 2007, and found that sleep just wasn't on the doctors' radar. "Sleep should be a priority for the family," Meltzer told me. "Sleep is an important part of function. It's needed for growth, development, learning."
Parents need to be aware of how common sleep problems are, and how much poor shut-eye can interfere with a child's waking life. Here are the most common sleep problems in children:
"It's important for parents to put sleep on the radar," Meltzer says, because sleep problems can be treated successfully, and sleep problems usually don't resolve on their own. I recently wrote about how to help teenagers get the sleep they need, and about a clever online baby tracker that helps parents figure out children's sleep patterns. Now, if only parents could figure out how to get more sleep!