How Tired Is Your Child?

If your child isn't getting enough sleep, it may be a bigger problem than you think, reports Correspondent Dr. Michael Breen of CBS Station WBBM in Chicago.

Experts at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago found that children who donÂ't sleep well are 25 percent more likely to have psychiatric problems.

The quickest tip-off to a sleep problem is how long it takes the child to fall asleep. Most children should fall asleep in 20-30 minutes.

Nine-year-old Danny Monterastelli has had a problem falling asleep on long sunny days. He usually ends up going to sleep at 1 or 2 a.m.

His mother has noticed the change in his behavior.

Danny has "a little crankiness in the afternoon or evening," she said.

Researchers found children who donÂ't get an adequate amount of sleep often had psychiatric problems like hyperactivity or very defiant behavior.

"Their attention span is poor. They have significant impulse control problems. They have difficulty sitting still," Dr. Stephen Sheldon of ChildrenÂ's Memorial says.

You can relieve many of those symptoms simply by helping your child get more sleep. Here are some tips to help you accomplish just that:

  • Put the blinds down earlier so the child's room is darker earlier.
  • Keep wake-up times for your child consistent.

If you allow weekend sleep patterns to develop, "They'll go to bed later and they wake up later because they sleep in the morning. Monday morning comes around and they're required to go to bed early and it's very difficult for them to fall asleep," Dr. Sheldon said.

If you follow all of these tips and the results don't change, it's time to get some medical help.

Although hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children may not always be attributable to lack of sleep, often it is a big factor, reports Dr. Breen.