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VOLUME 29, ISSUE 10


Practice Parameters for Behavioral Treatment of Bedtime Problems and Night Wakings in Infants and Young Children

Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD1; Judith Owens, MD2; Cathy Alessi, MD3; Brian Boehlecke, MD, MSPH4; Terry M. Brown, DO5; Jack Coleman, Jr., MD6; Leah Friedman, MA, PhD7; Vishesh K. Kapur, MD, MPH8; Teofilo Lee-Chiong, MD9; Jeffrey Pancer, DDS10; Todd J. Swick, MD11

1Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; 2Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI; 3VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and University of California, Los Angeles, Sepulveda, CA; 4University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; 5St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Murphysboro, IL; 6Murfreesboro, TN; 7Stanford University, Stanford, CA; 8University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 9National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO; 10Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 11Houston Sleep Center, Houston, TX



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Bedtime problems and frequent night wakings are highly prevalent in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Evidence suggests that sleep disruption and/or insufficient sleep have potential deleterious effects on children’s cognitive development, regulation of affect, attention, health outcomes, and overall quality of life, as well as secondary effects on parental and family functioning. Furthermore, longitudinal studies have demonstrated that sleep problems first presenting in infancy may become chronic, persisting into the preschool and school-aged years. A solid body of literature now exists supporting the use of empirically-based behavioral management strategies to treat bedtime problems and night wakings in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The following practice parameters present recommendations for the use of behavioral (i.e., non- harmacological) treatments of bedtime problems and night wakings in young children (aged 0 — 4. years 11 months). A companion review paper1 on which the recommendations are based was prepared by a taskforce appointed by the Standards of Practice Committee (SPC) of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), and summarizes the peer-reviewed scientific literature on this topic. The authors of the review paper evaluated the evidence presented by the reviewed studies according to modified Sackett criteria.2 Using this information and a grading system described by Eddy3 (i.e., standard, guideline or option), the Standards of Practice Committee and Board of Directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine determined levels of treatment recommendation presented in the practice parameters below. These practice parameters provide 3 types of recommendations. First, recommendations are provided indicating that behavioral interventions are effective in the treatment of bedtime problems and night wakings in young children, producing reliable and significant clinical improvement in sleep parameters. Second, recommendations are made regarding specific behavioral therapies, including: (1) unmodified extinction, extinction with parental presence, and preventive parent education are all rated as individually effective therapies in the treatment of bedtime problems and night wakings (Standards), and (2) graduated extinction, bedtime fading/positive routines and scheduled awakenings are rated as individually effective therapies in the treatment of bedtime problems and night wakings but with less certainty (Guidelines). There was insufficient evidence to recommend standardized bedtime routines and positive reinforcement as single therapies. In addition, although behavioral therapies for bedtime problems and night wakings are often combined, there was insufficient evidence available to recommend one individual therapy over another or to recommend an individual therapy over a combination of therapies. Finally, recommendations are provided regarding the beneficial effects of behavioral treatments on secondary outcomes, including daytime functioning (child) and parental well-being.
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