SOUNDING THE ALARM TO SLEEP WELL BEFORE THE SCHOOL BELL RINGS

September 4, 2019

SOUNDING THE ALARM TO SLEEP WELL BEFORE THE SCHOOL BELL RINGS

ThedaCare Family Medicine Provider Provides Tips for Families

SHAWANO, Wis. – With most students heading back to class by the beginning of September,  ThedaCare family medicine physicians say now is the time for parents to get their kids on a back-to-school sleep schedule. 

“A consistent wake time paired with an earlier bedtime will result in kids getting adequate sleep at the start of the school year,” said Amanda Born Bernath, MD, a family medicine physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. “Sleep is incredibly important for a child’s mental, physical and emotional health.”

A reported 25% of children and adolescents have sleep problems. Experts say that number can be reduced through a few simple measures.

The most recent guidelines issued by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes the adequate amount of sleep by age group.

  • Preschool-aged children (3 to 5 years old) need at least 10 hours of sleep.
  • Elementary school aged kids (6 to 12 years old) need at least 9 hours of sleep.
  • Teenagers (13 to 18 years old) need at least 8 hours of sleep.

“The amount of sleep needed for healthy living hasn’t changed over the years,” Dr. Born said. “Their bodies still need a certain amount of sleep to function well. The number of activities kids are involved with and the amount of screen time has increased and that has impacted their sleep.”

Dr. Born understands that it might be a struggle for parents to help their children meet these sleep rules with everyday pressures and “real life” issues. She suggests three ways parents can tuck their kids into a consistent sleep schedule.

  1. Urge physical activity for at least 60 minutes per day. The idea is to tire the body out throughout the day, especially late-afternoon, instead of watching TV, playing video games or texting friends. “Go outside and ride your bike, play a sport with friends, take a walk,” Dr. Born advises. “It will make a difference after a relatively sedentary day sitting in the classroom.”
  2. Establish quiet time before bedtime. One hour before lights are out, turn off the electronics – no smart phones, tablets, TVs or video games – and dim the lights. Children should read a book or take a bath. Think about activities that will help kids unwind.  
  3. Remove technology from the bedroom. Dr. Born discourages TVs in bedrooms and suggests parents have their children hand over their smartphones, videogame consoles and even computer monitors, if they will be drawn to them late into the night.

Dr. Born explained that adequate sleep can help minimize the effects of depression, anxiety and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The National Sleep Foundation recommends additional measures to sleep well, such as avoiding caffeine and big meals before bedtime as well as parents setting their own consistent sleep cycle to model healthy rest routines for their children.

Dr. Born acknowledges adolescents are especially difficult to get to bed early, since their internal body clocks shift, and they physically fight going to bed and waking up early.

“Teens naturally want to stay up later and sleep later in the morning,” she said. “Since school schedules do not allow for this, making sure they get enough sleep by going to bed earlier becomes a priority.”   

When it comes to overly tried children, afternoon naps are discouraged.

“If children are taking naps when they get home from school that likely means they’re not getting enough sleep at night,” she said. “Let’s try to get them into healthy sleep patterns early in life.”

If none of the tips seem to be working for your child, Dr. Born recommends speaking with your provider to discuss other options.

“It can be tough. Parents need to do what it takes to get their kids to bed early,” she said. “It will likely increase a child’s chance of a successful school year.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.