Back-to-School Sleep Tips

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Fairfax Neonatal Associates

By Dr. Melody Hawkins, Pediatric & Adolescent Sleep Center

Summer is coming to an end, and we all know what that means — well, yes, pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and fall colors, but it’s also back-to-school time!

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While it is not uncommon for bedtimes to shift later during a more flexible summer schedule, gradually transitioning back to a normal sleep pattern before the school year starts can help students start off on the right foot for a successful school year.

The following are some tips to help promote healthy sleep habits for students:

• Gradually adjust the sleep and wake schedules earlier before the start of school.

• Keep bed and wake times consistent from day to day, even on weekends. This helps to keep the circadian rhythm regulated and ensure adequate sleep time.

• Incorporate a short calming bedtime routine, aiming to keep it the same from night to night to help the brain associate these steps with sleep.

• Ensure that the sleeping environment is cool, quiet, comfortable, and dark or dimly lit.

• Electronics should be kept out of the bedroom, and exposure to electronic devices should be eliminated an hour before bed.

• Limit caffeine in the late afternoon or early evening, as later day caffeine consumption can cause difficulty falling asleep and contribute to poor sleep quality.

• Ensure that your child gets enough exercise and encourages a healthy, well-balanced diet.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that school-aged children and pre-teens get about 10- to 11-hours of sleep each night, and adolescents get a little more than 9-hours of sleep each night for optimal health and functioning. Teaching children healthy sleep habits now helps to ensure these practices continue throughout their lifetime.

As the only American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited sleep center in Northern Virginia, the specialists at Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ Pediatric & Adolescent Sleep Center evaluate and treat sleep-related problems specific to pediatrics and adolescents. Patients, ages 20 and younger, are seen by board-certified Pediatric Pulmonologists who are dedicated to fully treating a wide range of sleep disorders, including Restless Leg Syndrome, Narcolepsy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and more.

Learn more about Dr. Melody Hawkins, this post’s author here, and all of Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ providers here. Connect with their Pediatric & Adolescent Sleep Center online or by calling (703) 226-2290.