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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Adjusting back to school-year sleep schedule important, doctor says

  • Before parents think about sending their kids back to school for the year, they may want to think about sending them back to bed.

    Dr. Lori Crow, a pediatrician at St. Anthony Hospital in Shawnee, said she expects many children to struggle readjusting to school sleep schedules this month.
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  • Before parents think about sending their kids back to school for the year, they may want to think about sending them back to bed.
    Dr. Lori Crow, a pediatrician at St. Anthony Hospital in Shawnee, said she expects many children to struggle readjusting to school sleep schedules this month.
    A 2013 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 30 percent of teenagers stayed up past 1:30 a.m. during summer vacation.
    “Most parents think it’s just part of being a normal teenager, staying up late and not sleeping, and it is,” Crow said. “It shouldn’t be, they need their sleep too, but most teenagers do it so parents don’t get really worked up about it.”
    Crow said that while some parents believe that teens need less sleep than younger children do, they still require eight hours of sleep a day.
    For example, a teen who starts his or her school day at 8 a.m. should be in bed by 11 p.m. at latest.
    Younger children, Crow said, need even more sleep. Children ages 3 through 7 should be getting 10 to 12 hours each night. Children 8 through 12 should get 10 to 11 hours.
    Children who sleep more, Crow said, often do better in school and behave better, both in the home and the classroom.
    Overeating in teens, Crow said, can sometimes be attributed to a lack of sleep that causes hormonal imbalances. 
    Sleep deprivation can also be a concern for students who drive themselves to and from school.
    Crow said she’s seen studies that indicate as many as 15 percent of teens admit to falling asleep during class.
     
    Parents who want to take kids off a summer night-owl sleep schedule may want to start before classes begin.
    “Don’t wait for that Sunday night before school to start doing it because that’s just not going to work,” Crow said.
    Sleep schedules off by an hour should be able to be adjusted in a day or two, she said, but kids who are sleeping two or more hours later may need one or two weeks to full adjust.
    Another way to promote healthy sleep times is to “unplug” your kids. Many kids go to bed with televisions, computers and video games in their rooms, Crow said.
    “One of the first things that I tell parents is to get the electronics out of the bedroom,” she said. “If you’ve got younger kids, they don’t need that stuff in their room when they go to bed.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Crow proposed coming up with an alternate to electronics for a pre-bed routine, maybe reading a story or taking a shower.
    Above all, Crow said, those who sleep more usually just feel better. Many children plead for later bedtimes not fully realizing the benefits of a full night’s sleep.
    “You tend to feel better when you’re rested overall and it’s less stress on your body,” she said.

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