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Sleep Medicine Specialist Urges Preparation for Back to School Sleep Routines
08/14/2009

Good sleep habits often take a summer vacation when school is out. Now is the time to resume a normal routine according to pediatric sleep medicine experts at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

"It's natural to be flexible with bedtimes in the summer," said John Schuen, MD, division chief, pulmonary and sleep medicine, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "While appropriate for summer months, children should transition to a more normal sleep pattern as the first day of school approaches. Going to bed early the day before school starts is not the time to start a new routine."

  • Steadily adjust to earlier sleep and wake schedules 10 days to two weeks before school starts. This will adjust biological clocks to the new schedule. 
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Reading before bed is a good choice for kids of all ages.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule and avoid extremes on weekends. Having a regular bedtime increases the likelihood that kids, including teens, will get optimal sleep. 
  • Create a sleep environment that is cool, quiet, dimly lit and comfortable. 
  • Keep television, video games and other electronics out of the bedroom. Avoid using them within one hour of bedtime. 
  • Eliminate or reduce caffeine
  • Eat well and be active.

"Sleep is such an important element in a child's success in school," added Schuen. "Lack of sleep can affect a child's ability to concentrate, their mood and overall attitude. Children aged five to 12 need at least 10 hours of sleep a night. Making sleep a priority may be challenging but is well worth the effort for parents and children alike."

Watch Jim Chamness, MD, sleep medicine specialist, speak about children's sleep habits on Spectrum Health TV.

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is a Grand Rapids-based hospital serving children throughout Michigan. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians with specialized training in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. We care for 7,600 children on an inpatient basis and 190,000 children at outpatient sites annually. The staff at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation. The children's hospital is one of seven hospitals in the Spectrum Health system. Visit devoschildrens.org to learn more or devoschildrens.org/2011 to learn about the new hospital opening in 2011.

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