Published on August 15, 2012

Back to School Sleep Tips from the MGMC Sleep Disorders Center

AMES, IA – Now that school is back in session, it’s important to get your child back into a regular sleep schedule. 

 “In the long-term, children with chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to have difficulties learning, paying attention, and are even more likely to be overweight or to exhibit symptoms of attention deficit disorder,” says Dr. Selden Spencer, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center.

Here are some tips to help your child ease into his or her school-time sleep schedule and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year:

  • Work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule. Every night, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time.
  • Maintain a sleep schedule.  Once your child's sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don't use the weekend to "catch up on sleep."
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bedtime, start a "quiet time" to allow your child to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
  • Limit television, video games and other electronic distractions before bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals close to bedtime. A heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep.
  • Avoid sodas and other caffeinated drinks. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine six hours before bedtime, as the caffeine can interrupt your child's natural sleep patterns.
  • Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment, including a dark room, comfortable bed, and a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Electronic distractions such as televisions, computers or video games should be removed from your child's room and set up in a different location.
  • Be a role model. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center provides a comfortable testing environment with staff specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of sleep disorders. The Sleep Disorders Center has been accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 1996.

For more information visit www.mgmc.org/sleep or call the Sleep Disorders Center at 515-239-2353.

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