Boy sleeping with head on books.

Regarding Kids and Sleep…

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Two previous blogs in this series talked about “Things to Know About Your Kids Sleep Habits” and “How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?” So, let’s take a look at what can be done.Boy sleeping with head on books.

A report from Stanford University gave these recommendations:

  • Monitor your child’s activities. Along with school, teens often play sports, take specialized lessons in the arts, work part time, attend school functions or clubs and spend time with their friends. If your child has an over-busy schedule, help them choose the most important activities and then stick to a reasonable schedule that allows time for homework and adequate rest.
  • Talk to your Parent Teachers Association about changing the school start time. Many High Schools have pushed the starting bell as early as 7:15 a.m. The average American teenager gets 6.5 hours of sleep on a school night, some get much less. There is evidence that many teens snooze through their morning classes. If they had adequate sleep, they would learn more. Some schools in Minnesota who have moved start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. are reporting better grades and fewer discipline problems.

Here are a few special “sleep hygiene” tips for teenagers:

  1. Stay away from caffeine and nicotine (which are both stimulants) after noon. Also avoid alcohol, which can disrupt sleep.
  2. Avoid heavy studying or computer games before bed, they can be arousing.
  3. Avoid arguing with your adolescent just before bedtime.
  4. Avoid trying to sleep with a computer screen or TV flickering in the room.
  5. Avoid bright light in the evening, but open blinds or turn on lights as soon as the morning alarm goes off to aid awakening.
  6. Let them sleep in on the weekend, but no more than 2 to 3 hours later than their usual awakening time or it will disrupt their body clock.

And just a reminder from the Bible regarding rest:

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 NIV

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.