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Stages, States, And Cycles, Functions Of Sleep, Developmental Trends In Sleep, Sleep DisordersMeasuring Sleep, Sleep Requirements

Sleep is known to play an important role in the health and well-being of children. But sleeping, although restful, involves more than resting. Despite the peaceful appearance of the sleeping child, sleep is an active process with cycles of physiological arousal alternating between intense activity and profound tranquility.

Researchers use a variety of techniques to study sleep. These include parental reports, sleep diaries, direct observations, and videotaping, as well as more complicated techniques that involve recordings of heart rate, brain waves, eye and muscle activity, oxygen saturation, and airflow. Actigraphy (recording of movements via a small device worn on the arm or leg) is also used to record sleep patterns.

It is not clear how much sleep is optimal for children because most studies have been based on small samples. Until developmental norms are established for large representative samples of children and adolescents, parents may need to monitor their child's behavior. A child who has difficulty waking in the morning, or is consistently sleepy, irritable, and inattentive during the day, may not be getting enough sleep.

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 7