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We are three weeks away from the start of school in some districts in our community. Our kids have been playing video games, binge watching Netflix, having sleepovers and generally going to bed late and getting up late for weeks. What will happen when they have to get up at 6:30 or 7:00 on the first day of school? It won’t be pretty, as they say. Nothing like a cranky child to get the day off to a good start! 

Start now to get that Circadian rhythm (the sleep/wake cycle) adjusted to school hours. The American Sleep Association recommends that students between 6 and 12 years of age get 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. The recommendation for teenagers is 8 to 10 hours. If your children are going to bed about three hours past their school night bedtime, try getting them to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Two hours before bedtime, turn off electronic media that involves a screen emitting blue light. This allows the brain to produce the hormone melatonin, which helps the brain prepare to sleep. Light emitted by a screen interferes with the production of melatonin.
  • It would also be a good idea to confiscate the devices, children have been known to continue watching movies or playing games in bed with the covers pulled over their heads!
  • Develop a bedtime routine:  a shower or bath to relax, reading together for 10 minutes or so, a positive conversation about the day (suggestion – What made you smile today?) and a goodnight hug or kiss.
  • Experts suggest that a dark, cool bedroom is essential.
  • Try to keep the same bedtime, even on weekends, until after the beginning of the school year.

Snoring can be an indication of a medical condition that is interfering with restful sleep. Follow up with your child’s physician if they snore or seem excessively restless while sleeping.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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