While the study stops short of stating that caffeine causes sleep problems, pediatric pulmonologist Greg Omlor, director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Sleep Center, said there’s no doubt caffeine interferes with sleep. After all, caffeine is a stimulant often used by adults to help wake up in the morning and remain alert throughout the day.
Dr. Omlor offers parents these 5 tips to control their kids’ caffeine consumption:
- Lead by example and don’t drink caffeinated beverages after dinner.
- Talk to your kids about the importance of getting adequate sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, irritability, frustration, attention problems, and difficulty controlling impulses and emotions.
- Talk to your children about how consuming caffeine in the evening can interfere with their sleep that night.
- Opt for healthy beverages at home, such as milk and water, and avoid buying caffeinated, sugary drinks such as soda.
- Encourage your kids to ask for non-caffeinated beverages when they are away from home.
If your child is experiencing sleep problems, encourage her to keep a sleep diary to record how much time she slept the night before and how she feels the next day. After one week, review the diary with her and look for potential influences on the quality and quantity of sleep, such as drinking caffeinated beverages or watching TV. If you still are concerned about her sleep, contact the Akron Children’s Hospital Sleep Center at 330-543-8318.
* The study, “Caffeine Consumption in Young Children,” was published in the December 2010 Journal of Pediatrics.