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Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving...or Missing Sleep?

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  325 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Does your child

Refuse to cooperate in the morning?
Get into trouble for not listening?
"Lose it" over seemingly insignificant issues?
Seem to resist sleep?
An estimated 69 percent of American infants, children, and teens are sleep deprived. Studies have shown that sleep deficits can contribute to hyperactivity, distraction, forgetfulness, learning problems, illness, accidents,
ebook, 352 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people w/sleep issues, parents, pediatricians, people who give advice
Recommended to Leah by:
Shelves: kindle, favorites
Let me get the SINGLE negative about this book out of the way up front: it is titled and marketed too narrowly. Sleepless in America is NOT about just children and their sleep habits. It is about how to get yourself, your spouse, your baby/toddler/preschooler/schoolkid/teenager, EVERYONE to sleep in a kinder, easier, gentler, more loving way.

People with kids get a lot of advice about sleep. I've seen conjecture that because of the Back to Sleep campaign, babies sleep worse these days - which ha
Sarah Whitney
The Body

Your child’s body is also impacted as the tension and fatigue arise. Movements become jerky, frenzied, and often impulsive.
How well is your child able to control her body? Are her movements smooth and energetic, or is your child “wired” and unable to stop? To determine if your child’s behaviors may be caused by sleep deprivation, look for the following reactions:

- Clumsy, experiences frequent accidents, falls and injuries
- Frenzied, hyperactivity
- Wild at bedtime, can’t fall asleep – ev
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I read this book as a resource for work and really loved it. So many families struggle with sleep, and this book gave me some really useful tools and strategies to share with parents. The author looks at the (often unrecognized) link between lack of sleep and misbehavior and talks about what keeps children from sleeping: tension/stress, the body clock, and temperament. Chapters on night waking, naps, travel and holidays, and changing beds/rooms are also included. I appreciated the author's respo ...more
Even if none of the suggestions in this book work for my child, it's still a 5 star book because it made me feel ok about not wanting to let my child cry it out, it made me feel ok that my child is different than other children, and it never once tried to give a one-size-fits-all suggestion. This book says it's ok to learn and improve as you go and you're not a terrible parent because such and such method didn't work when you tried it (you must have done it wrong because it works for every other ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
It's so true what a little sleep can do! Recommendations are that a preschooler is supposed to be getting 12 hours of sleep a night and a toddler 13! Children under the age of five should all be napping. I really liked how the author included tips for children who were slow to adapt, sensitive, or highly active. In our highly stressed world of going from activity to activity it was nice to hear that slowing down actually increases our productivity! A great reminder for those of us with kids.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good read! At some point I got so excited by it, my 'bubbles were all up'! ;) Most of the tips are for older kids than my seven-month-old, but it was still interesting for the future, and even for me. It did make me want to set a more firm routine (instead of "going with what baby seems to want", which often meant ending up with an overtired baby who slept only thirty minutes and does not want to go to sleep), and I'm also going to try getting outside exercise in the mornings. Here's to h ...more
Sep 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course, I always look for them to tell me exactly what to do with my children and they never seem to. But I do like her philosophies. Doesn't seem to be helping much with my daughter who takes forever to go to sleep at night.
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lisa Wuertz
I did like this book. Kurcinka has clearly done her research on sleep. I liked reading about circadian rythm, how a person's/child's personality impacts sleep, and how different environmental factors impact sleep.

I do feel like I am walking away from this book with a better knowledge of sleep and how to help my daughter get the sleep she needs.

I also liked that she helps parents approach the process of getting their child to sleep in a gentle and sensitive manner. You aren't left feeling like yo
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents, teachers, pediatricians, physicians, shift workers
I really got a lot out of RAISING YOUR SPIRITED CHILD, so I checked out this one too. I've always been a night owl who functions on very little sleep (not always happily), but I had no idea how easily missing sleep can affect a small child. The author impressed upon me the importance of winding down before bed; the pediatrician who said that I needed to have a 'routine' for my daughter didn't do it nearly this well. Timing really is everything. Since I started reading SLEEPLESS IN AMERICA a few ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far the best sleep book I've read. It's not perfect** but what sleep book could be, really? I particularly like the author's emphasis on understanding your child's personality as it relates to ease or difficulty in sleeping. We'd put some of what she recommends into practice already (particularly related to setting the body clock) and it's been helpful to us. We're seeing far fewer tantrums from Ellie now that we've figured out a way to get her to take a short nap every afternoon.

Lady Susan
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Probably the best book I have read on sleeping, and at this point, I have read quite a number. It isn't like your other typical sleep books--it doesn't fall into one specific sleep camp (i.e. cry it out, don't cry it out.) Also, it isn't directed towards infants. Rather she takes a whole family approach--how to get your family (all of your kids regardless of age) to sleep better.

The most illuminating and life-changing aspect of this book was the discussion of temperament and how that will influe
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for parents of infants through teenagers. Kurcinka shares the latest sleep research and how sleep affects children while offering practical strategies for helping children get optimal sleep. This is not a one size fits all approach; rather, Kurcinka places great emphasis on observing one's own child to understand his temperament and sleep needs and then gently nudging him to a better sleep given the needs of the family. Thus, she offers a family-centered approach to meet ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
If you often feel like your child has behavioral issues that can't be diagnosed, maybe they are just not getting enough sleep at night. This book talks about the importance of sleep in having a good day and how we mess it up for our kids when we don't stick to routines.

My daughter always had issues, and even with a consistent bedtime routine is so wound up at night that she just can't get to sleep for 90 minutes or more every night. It took one of her doctors at Children National Medical Center
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In our culture - or at least in my family - we really do think less about sleep than we should. This book gave me the permission to refocus on my kids' sleep needs, firmly commit to their bedtime, and resist the urge to rush through the motions of their bedtime routine when we're short on time. It made me stop and think about how for the kids, sleep is not so much a function of whether they're tired as it is a function of whether they're able to relax enough to go to sleep - are my actions at be ...more
Sharon Mensing
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I read this in preparation for a parent book club, and though I'm not a parent of a child I need to get to sleep, I found a lot to relate to. There's good advice in this book for adults who want to get a good night's sleep on a regular basis, as well as for parents trying to help their children sleep. Because the author classifies children into types and then gives type-specific advice, this is a book that a parent could read through fairly quickly. As a "morning lark" herself, Kurcinka seems so ...more
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. Love the author's humane ideas on kindness and sleep training and the comparison to caring for the elderly. I'm all for thoughtful, kind parenthood. I learned some things while reading through it. For instance, I picked up some signs of sleep deprivation in a child and realized that our son that I had recently released from napping had started to exhibit some of them (poor behavior, twitching eye spasms...etc.) and because of this information I wisely put him back into a napp ...more
I love this book. It makes me feel like a competent parent. With all of the sleeping advice books out there it's easy to feel that if you don't follow their advice, even if it goes against your instincts, you are*ruining your child FOREVER.* Kurcinka recommends gentle, caring tactics to help your child relax into sleep, knowing they are loved and secure. She also notes that every child is different, and some children are just wired to have a harder time easing into sleep than others (ding ding d ...more
Michelle Acker
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: life-changers
LOVED this book. This book changed the way I understood my kids. So often everything is tied to sleep. I changed the way I parent my kids after reading this, and 7 years later, I can say I recommend this to every new mom I know. SLEEP is crucial. Teach your kids to value sleep. To understand their behavior and emotions when they're low on sleep. Learn to nap. Can't recommend this book highly enough, even for those without kids. Read the chapter about getting enough sleep as an adult. :)
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read for anyone wanting more ideas and general information about sleep and children. It's not a book about infant sleep, but is great for anyone with a one-year-old and up. I swear, I fixed some of Lily's current sleep weirdnesses within days with some of the ideas I read here. AND, this book doesn't rely on the whole rhetoric of guilt and terror that much of the dreaded psycho "sleep-training" literature out there does. Instead, this book feels really healthy and good about ...more
Gemma Alexander
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: raising-kids
The best of the bunch. I keep going back to this one as we continue to modify our approach to bedtime and night wakings. Although all the sleep books claim to be unique in looking for an alternative to "crying it out," they all seem to have basically the same advice and basic sleep science background information. But this one does the best job of balancing scientific basis with practical exercises. It is also the only one that assumes the reader has a child who is genuinely not getting enough sl ...more
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, okay, okay, I can let go of the sleep thing with Damion. Even though this author says two-year-olds should be napping she does indicate that 12 hours minimum is needed for his age, and he does get that at night. Additionally, a sleep deprived child will wake during the night and we don't have that problem with Damion. Offering quite time, and he occasionally will nap...yes, Brad, I can let it go!
For parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, I'd probably have to recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers instead. It did have a few innovative ideas, but it spends a LOT more time advocating for responsive nighttime care while I read it to look for more ideas about how to deal with my child's nighttime waking issues.
Christine Gaudreau
I started reading this book when my almost 4 year old started asking to sleep in his own bed. Which I am happy about but it has made falling asleep for us all a nightmare. This book has already helped me understand that he needs to feel safe and secure like he does when he cosleeps with us. I am eager to finish the book to get more ideas with helping him get a good night sleep which will hopefully then carry over to a good behavior day.
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great guide to helping tailor your sleep schedule and figure out reasons why your child acts the way they do. It is a little repetitive, but things need to be repetitive to be remembered. I now understand that my child , when he is misbehaving and not listening just tired and need help getting rest.
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic! I never viewed my family as having "sleep issues" but I still learned so much about how your body works concerning sleep and strategies for encouraging good sleep habits. Wonderful resources included in the book and references for specific issues such as traveling, nightmares, etc that I've gone to time and again! A must read for every parent.
Nicole Lemke
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
The book was well reasearched, and it really drove home the importance of sleep. There was some redundancies. I already limit TV, don't give my kids caffeine (duh?), employ the routine, respond in the nighttime and have a dark atmosphere. So sometimes I felt like " yeah yeah I do all that but this still takes so long to get them down..."
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My baby is 40 days old today and my 3-year-old has been nearly intolerable. Reading this book and the same author's power struggle book has given me new tools to ensure success at our house. Today I implemented a siesta where everyone is alone midday and we all got along better. I recommend this book to anyone with sleep questions!!
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pivotal in helping me understand that my daughter (and my husband and I) needed help re-setting our sleep patterns and habits. We hired a sleep consultant to work with us and not a day goes by that I do not feel grateful for the amazing change that has occurred. Turns out, my daughter was not misbehaving! She was exhausted!!
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I really enjoyed this book too. Its been a long time since I read it, but it was eye-opening and has made me a sleep-Nazi!!
I think most parents know that missed sleep can cause misbehavior.
Anyway, I would only say read this if you have too much time or if you don't think you know much about how important sleep is.
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Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is a best-selling author and internationally recognized lecturer and parent educator. Her books Raising Your Spirited Child, Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook; Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles; and Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep have been translated into ten languages.

As director of, Mary provides training nationally
More about Mary Sheedy Kurcinka...

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