Recent studies reported by The Today Show have linked poor sleep behaviors in teenager years to depression, obesity, automobile accidents, and reduced grades and test scores. The American Academy of Pediatrics have supported a shift to later start times, such as 8:30 am, for middle school and high school students.
While some districts are making the shift to the 8:30 am bell for teen students its likely your child is starting school next week and his school has not yet changed the morning bell for this year.
So what can you do to improve your child’s sleep hygiene, have an overall better quality of life, and not be in what the AAP calls “a state of permanent jetlag” this school year:
1) Set limits around electronics: Many kids are going to sleep with their phone tucked in their pillowcase and staying up all night texting. Studies have shown that the light from an iPad or even a cell phone can keep the brain in a waking excited state.
2) Allow for a quick nap but parents can help by monitoring. A 20-minute nap can restore alertness and take the edge off. Often parents are working and if a child falls asleep right after school they may sleep for 2-3 hours before parents get home. This kind of sleep disrupts a schedule and then contributes to later fall asleep times that cause the poor routine to continue.
3) Create healthy sleep routines early with some child control. Parents should encourage behaviors such as showering, laying out clothes, brushing teeth, taking one last sip of water, and reading a book in a timely way but allow the child to have some sense of choice such as the order of these behaviors.
4) Have mental health issues evaluated. If your child seems to be anxious or depressed in a way that is interrupting sleep you should take these issues seriously. To speak with a therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic visit www.birminghammaple.com or call (248) 646-6659