Getting the proper amount of sleep plays a major role in your child’s performance in school, as well as their entire well-being. With back-to-school time just around the corner, it’s important to go ahead and begin getting your children and teens back into their normal, school year sleep routines. To ensure a good night’s sleep for younger, school-aged children, parents should start the "getting-ready-for-bed" routine at least an hour before the child’s bedtime. This would involve turning off the television, video games, and other stimulating activities, and beginning to bathe, brush teeth, change into pajamas and other bedtime preparations. Activities such as reading a book or listening to soothing music or sounds may also help kids calm down before bed.
During the summer months, teenagers often enjoy the chance to stay up late at night and sleep late the next morning. However, teens need about eight to nine hours of sleep each night as well. So in the few weeks before the start of the school year, parents should begin limiting their teens’ week day sleepovers and/or staying up late at night, and should begin waking them up earlier in the mornings to help get them readjusted to their upcoming school schedule. With increased extracurricular activities, after school jobs and more demanding course loads, maintaining healthy sleep routines can often be difficult. Parents can be proactive in ensuring adequate rest for their teens by not allowing their cell phones or computers in their bedrooms during the night, which often serve as sources of stimulation and sleep distraction.
Children and adolescents who are unable to get into a healthy sleep routine may be suffering from an actual sleep disorder. Therefore, parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of possible sleep disorders in children which can include consistent snoring (three to four times a week), breathing that pauses during sleep, waking up with a headache, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong places or wrong times, behavioral issues, and difficulty concentrating. If your child is consistently displaying symptoms of a potential sleep problem, talk to your primary care physician about getting referred for a sleep study. Annie Penn Sleep Disorders Center and Cone Health Sleep Disorders Center (next to Wesley Long Hospital) both offer pediatric sleep studies for children five years of age and older. Leading the studies is an exceptional team of a board-certified sleep medicine specialist, sleep technologists and respiratory therapists and state-of-the-art sleep monitoring equipment.
Christy Hall is the manager of Annie Penn Sleep Disorders Center and Respiratory Therapy and has been a respiratory therapist for twenty-five years. Hall is a graduate of J. Sargeant Community College with a degree in respiratory therapy.