Parents of children who don’t sleep well have a new resource to help them develop better sleep habits and routines for their child.
Called Better Nights, Better Days, the online program was created by UBC nursing professor Wendy Hall working with a team of sleep experts from other universities. It includes a module on the elements of healthy sleep, common sleep problems, a sleep diary, and other methods to help children develop better sleeping habits.
The whole program takes about a month to complete and can be accessed from any web-enabled device.
“Research tells us that as many as three out of 10 children in industrialized countries—and 25 per cent of Canadian children—experience sleep issues. That’s highly concerning because studies show even a small amount of sleep loss is associated with behavioural difficulties or learning disabilities,” said Hall, a member of both the Canadian Sleep Society and the American Academy for Sleep Medicine.
Sleep deprivation also affects parents’ quality of life, Hall added. In families where the children aren’t sleeping or sleeping well, the parents are often tired and mentally and physically stressed.
Research out of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Michigan suggests that only two per cent of children with a sleep problem who had primary care checkups received any sleep-related recommendation from their care providers, said Hall.
“Addressed early on, parents can break the cycle of poor sleep and help their children achieve good health habits to carry into adulthood. But it’s not always convenient or even possible for parents to get their children into behavioural treatment programs,” said Hall. “With Better Nights, Better Days, families have easy access to sleep support that can complement clinical and other resources that they may choose to access.”
The resource is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is available on a pilot basis across Canada, except for the Maritime provinces, where a sufficient number of participants have already registered.
Parents with children ages one to 10 who experience sleep issues—including difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking too early—are invited to sign up at www.betternightsbetterdays.ca.