Secondhand Smoke and Kids’ Sleep

Who would want to give their children nightmares? Or night terrors? Who wants to make bedtime battles worse? Who would want to make it take longer for their children to fall asleep once they get in bed? Who wants their kids to sleep worse when they finally do drift off? Who wants their children to be more tired and cranky during the day? Just being exposed to secondhand smoke can do all of these things, at least for some for kids, according to a study published January 18, 2010 in Pediatrics.

The researchers looked at sleep issues in kids who were already enrolled in a different study on asthma treatments. They analyzed the sleep patterns of 219 kids with asthma who were exposed to secondhand smoke versus other kids with the same severity of asthma who didn’t get the smoke exposure. The results were striking, and went beyond what they would expect just from the breathing problems we know are caused by secondhand smoke.

While this study only included children with asthma, the researchers suggest that being around smoke may affect the sleep of kids without asthma as well. I also wonder if other fumes, as from harsh household cleaners, might affect sleep as well.

Our kids deserve clean air, especially in their own homes.

  • Try to keep cigarette smoke, harsh fumes, and chemical fragrances out of the home.
  • Open windows when you can to let fresh air in (almost always cleaner than inside air).
  • Consider a houseplant for your child’s room (can remove up to 90 percent of pollutants).

Yolton, K., Xu, Y., Khoury, J., Succop, P., Lanphear, B., Beebe, D.W., and Owens, J. “Associations Between Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Sleep Patterns in Children.” Pediatrics, online 18 Jan 2010, (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-0690).

Published on: January 22, 2010
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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