Home > Kids > Children's General Health > Sleep > Ten-Year-Old Can't Fall Asleep
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Ten-Year-Old Can't Fall Asleep

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My 10-year-old boy can't fall asleep at night. He is up till 11, sometimes 12 o'clock. He is not real active when he gets home after school due to lack of playmates around, but he does play hockey as a sport. He is very intelligent, so do you think he just can't shut down his "brainwaves" at night? I watch what he consumes as far as caffeine, sugar, etc., but I am beginning to worry about it. He says he can't go to sleep -- he tries but is not tired. Should I have him checked out? Could there be a food allergy?

A: Sleep patterns can vary quite a bit from child to child. At 10 years of age the average child needs about 10 hours of sleep at night, but the range is from 8 to 12 hours of sleep. It is sometimes difficult to figure out what is "normal" for you own child. It is possible that he only needs 8 hours of sleep.

If he has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning on a regular basis, or if he seems irritable or tired during the day, it is likely that he is not getting enough sleep. There are a few rules you should enforce: No television in the hour before bedtime. TV is a stimulant for most children, and watching it just before bedtime can "jazz them up," and make it more difficult to fall asleep. The same goes for listening to loud or harsh music. Some soft, quiet music is probably okay. Reading for 20 to 30 minutes is a good way to settle down for a good night's sleep. The last rule is that he should not get into bed until he is truly tired. It is very frustrating to be limited to a bed for one or two hours when you are not ready to fall asleep.

It is very unlikely that the sleep problem is caused by a food allergy. The biggest food issue, caffeine, you have already addressed. Chocolate can also serve as a stimulant, and I would avoid large amounts of it in the hours before bedtime.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.