Home & Family
Getting ZZZZ’s to Make A’s
7/4/2018 10:05:16 PM

The lazy, relaxed days of summer will soon be replaced with schedules, classes, and homework. It can be a shock to children to have to wake up early once school begins. As parents are busy buying new notebooks, new uniforms, and new lunch boxes, they should also take time to implement new sleep schedules for back-to-school. 

"Do everyone in the household a favor and plan to transition the sleeping patterns a few weeks before school,” advises Phillip Conner, MD, board certified sleep specialist and medical director of the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana. "A little pre-planning makes it easier on everyone.”

Parents and teachers alike will attest to the fact that a good night’s sleep can make a world of difference in a child’s performance at school. Lack of quality sleep can increase the likelihood of anxiety, low grades, and poor ability in classes. Fidgety and unruly behavior can often be traced back to not getting enough sleep the night before. 

There are two general types of sleep: rapid eye movement, or REM, and non-REM sleep. Both types are necessary for optimal learning. REM sleep is vital for consolidating memories so they can be retrieved later, a key cognitive function for learning. It’s also important for growing bodies and proper development. Non-REM sleep is more restorative; it helps keep the mind and body awake during the day. 

A consistent schedule is a crucial component to getting quality rest. Going to sleep and waking up at generally the same time each day is good for both the mind and body. "Even though children are usually woken by a parent or an alarm clock, being consistent with bedtime and wake up time, helps them wake up fully in a short time frame,” explains Dr. Conner.
Weekends are typically not as scheduled as weekdays but it’s best if the sleep patterns don’t vary more than one or two hours on weekends.

Here are a few helpful hints to get your children enough zzzzz’s to function well:

Spend time together before bed.
Either snuggle in their bed or just talk together in a quiet space if the child is older. Let them talk about whatever is on their mind. Guide the conversation to soothing remedies for their troubles. Now is not the time for a long discussion about what frightens them; you want to gently help them put the day to rest and get ready for sleep. 
Avoid screen time before bed.
About an hour before bedtime, have your child set aside the tablet, phone, and video games. The blue light emitted from screens can inhibit the body’s natural melatonin release.

Embrace the routine.
A consistent schedule helps children know what to expect. When bath time, brushing teeth, and a story are done nightly, their minds and bodies settle into the routine and they become comfortable with it; as they get older, they’ll tend to continue the pattern with minor adjustments as they age.

Decrease fluids.
Limit what they drink throughout the evening so they can use the restroom before bed and not have to wake up repeatedly during the night to do so. 

Dr. Conner recommends setting a reasonable sleep schedule about two weeks prior to school starting. "Everyone’s sleep needs are unique; some children require more sleep than what’s recommended and some need less, but start with this guide (see below) and tweak their schedule as needed,” he advises.

The Sleep Disorder Center provides sleep testing and treatment for all ages. For more information, call (337) 310-REST (7378)
Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting

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