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Genetic and Environmental Factors Control Sleep in Children

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  May 31, 2013 at 11:18 AM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, genes play a major role in determining sleep habits in babies at night, whereas environment plays an important role in day-time napping once they are toddlers.
 Genetic and Environmental Factors Control Sleep in Children
Genetic and Environmental Factors Control Sleep in Children
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Small babies tend to sleep longer and nap frequently. As they grow in age, the sleep duration reduces, and children by the age of 5 years often give up napping. However, sleeping patterns vary widely among children.

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A study was conducted in Canada that evaluated the influence of genetic and environmental factors on sleep patterns of infants and toddlers. The babies were either identical twins who are genetically similar, or fraternal twins, who have different genetic make-ups. Mothers reported the sleep patterns at 6, 18, 30 and 48 months of age.

The researchers felt from the mothers' observations that genes mainly influence sleeping habits in babies. Daytime napping was more dependent on environmental factors, especially in the toddler stage.

A sleeping routine can be established once the child is a little older especially around 18 months of age. This could include a consistent bedtime and some soothing activity before sleeping like reading a book or listening to soft music. Kids should be put to bed while they are drowsy but still awake so that they learn how to fall asleep. The researchers do not approve trying to keep the toddler awake and depriving a nap during the day so that they can sleep better at night.

Too less sleep makes a child irritable and cranky, whereas too much time in bed may result in the child waking up multiple times. Thus, it is necessary to find a balance between sleeping and waking up times to ensure that the babies as well as the parents are well rested.

Source: Medindia
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