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September 20, 2017

Back to School Tips; Fixing Your Sleep Schedule

Summer is coming to a close and that means back to school. For our year-round students they are by now back into school and establishing their routines while our traditional calendar kids have just started back.  So what better way to start off our pediatric blog than with some back to school tips!

Sleep: this can be one of the biggest challenges for any age group, especially after those late summer nights and sleeping in. For the adolescent it is even sometimes harder to break those late night binges from over the summer to get back into a normal sleep routine. Just like healthy eating and exercise, sleep is very important for growth and development of not only children but adolescents as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following amount of sleep by age group:

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

Not only does sleep promote healthy growth and development but has been found that adequate sleep duration for age (recommended above) on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience an increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts. For infants and young children, establishing a bedtime routine is important to ensuring they get adequate sleep each night. Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may include bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying goodnight. Remember, try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep. What about for the preteens and adolescents? The AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms. Screens on phones, TV’s, computers etc. Stimulate the brain and cause it to remain in an “awake” state even aft turning them off which is why it is recommended no use of these devices 30 minutes prior to bedtime. If your child requires background noise try something like a sound machine or soft music (classical, lullabies’ etc.).

This concludes this week’s blog, stay tuned as next week will be another back to school tip!

Written By: Christopher Elkins, CPNP

Practitioner Elkins was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner by the PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board). He sees patients from birth to 21 years of age Christopher and his wife Erin have an 8-year-old son, Everett and are expecting another baby boy in October 2017. Christopher and his family enjoy traveling to the mountains of North Carolina in the fall; enjoy the beaches during the summer, and concert-going all year round.

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