Featured Local Business

Most Read: Wellness

Why Yoga is Good for Kids

Little Cecilia Kocan, age 5, sat perfectly still, meditating... Read more

Chatting About Online Safety

Nowadays kids of all ages are connecting with friends and fa... Read more

Zits for Grown-Ups

Cafeteria cliques may be a distant memory, but if you’re sti... Read more

Nuts About Nuts

Holiday vacation time is approaching, and I already feel lik... Read more

The Dirt on Dirt

“Don’t track mud in the house!” “Wash your hands before din... Read more

Family + Sports = Fun

Fitness starts early—from a child’s first steps! When Mom an... Read more

Make Sleep a Priority

  Parents often use bedtime stories and other peaceful... Read more

Bringing Home Baby

As a parent-to-be, you are probably feeling overwhelmed as y... Read more

To Cell or Not to Cell

My husband and I were sitting on the couch chatting one nigh... Read more

Concerned about Fever?

One the most common reasons I see a child in my office is fo... Read more

Walking the Middle Path

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a relatively new appro... Read more

Mild Concussions

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Dave Baron, DO, ... Read more

Let's Move

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in Amer... Read more

Good-for-You Recipes

When I was little, my parents didn’t dress up my vegetables ... Read more

Fitting in Fitness

When was the last time you played with your children—really ... Read more

Water Safety Skills

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United... Read more

Eat Your Veggies!

Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables offers a... Read more

Planning for Summer

This is the time of year that families think about the end o... Read more

Plan a Summer Cookout

Some of my favorite summer memories were times when my dad b... Read more

Grieving & Growing

Has your child ever reacted intensely when you are out of he... Read more

2017 Aug

A Healthy Night's Sleep

The end of summer means the beginning of the dreaded “school schedule.” You know what I mean: up early, get kids dressed and fed (yes, you must brush your teeth and hair), pack lunches, send kids off to school, go to work, errands at lunch, after work rush to school to pick up kids after (insert extracurricular activity here), home to feed them (thank you, crock pot) and then rush them to the next (insert second extracurricular activity here).

Then there’s the struggle of homework, shower, and bed, before it’s time to do it all again the next day. So, is it a surprise to you that many children do not get the recommended 10 hours of sleep a night? Yes, I said 10 hours. Studies show that the average amount of weeknight sleep for teens is six hours. Only 3 percent of American teens get nine hours of sleep.

We know that sleep is vital for immunity, growth, and brain development. It is the time our body recharges and rebuilds. Sleep is essential to life itself. Without proper rest, children do not perform up to par. Their grades may suffer. They do not score as well on standardized tests. Their athletic performance and reaction time suffers. They have issues with attention and increased daytime drowsiness.

Lack of rest can contribute to childhood obesity as children may overeat to have energy to keep going, or they may make poor food choices gravitating toward sugar and carbs (two friends of mine as well). Poor sleep may also be linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Screen time may be making things worse. The light from the screen suppresses the natural release of melatonin, which causes us to be drowsy. Most teens have electronics in their bedrooms: TV or computer screens, or gaming systems. Studies show that use of such electronic screens in the evenings is linked to less nighttime sleep. Teens then use strategies, such as caffeine and energy drinks, which worsen the issue and can interfere with their sleep cycle. Naps or oversleeping on the weekends can also disrupt their natural sleep cycle.

If your child needs to get up at 6:30 a.m. for school, then he needs to be asleep by 8:30 p.m. Ideally, your child should be in bed by 8 to allow for 30 minutes of reading to unwind. Sound impossible? It can be achieved with a few minor changes to our lives.

Sometimes we need to draw a line in the sand. We may have to tell our child to choose one extracurricular activity rather than two. Sometimes we may have to tell the coach that our child is unable to make the late practice this week. Sometimes we need to stand up and be the parent.

We want our kids to have the best nutrition, the best clothes, the best learning opportunities, but we often settle for less than their best sleep. If your child is difficult to wake in the morning or is routinely cranky, she may be overly tired. Kids will often make up for lost sleep by catching naps or sleeping in on the weekend.   

It’s best if you can keep kids on the same schedule each day, including weekends, but if they are overly tired, they may need that late morning on the weekend. Try not to alter their sleep routine by more than an hour on any day.

Proper sleep hygiene is essential to healthy sleep. Let’s review the best sleep practices.

• Go to bed and wake about the same time each day, including weekends.

• Avoid caffeine, particularly after lunchtime.

• Keep screens—TVs, computers, video games and phones—out of the bedroom.

• Bedrooms are used for reading and sleeping.

• No screen time for one hour before bedtime, including phones.

• Encourage pleasure reading from a book before bedtime.

• Low lighting and a peaceful environment aid sleep in the bedroom.

Still having issues with your kids getting to bed on time? Consider the herbal supplement Melatonin. It’s available without a prescription in 1 mg, 2 mg, or 5 mg tablets. It’s considered safe for kids and may help send them off to dreamland. Talk to your pediatric healthcare provider to see if it’s right for your child.

Wishing you and your family a peaceful night’s sleep and a wonderful day tomorrow!

Dr. Melanie J Wilhelm DNP CPNP is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Pediatric Specialists in Norfolk, VA as well as a lecturer at Old Dominion University. Her first book, Raising Today’s Baby, is available on www.Amazon.com or at www.RaisingTodaysChild.com. You may email her at raisingtodayschild@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RaisingTodaysChild and twitter at www.twitter.com/Rzn2dayschild

You May Also Enjoy