Healthy sleep habits prepare students for back-to-school


Summer is winding down and students of all ages are gearing up for a new school year.

Along with buying school clothes, backpacks and supplies, adjusting your students’ sleep schedule helps prepare them for a healthy and successful new year.

“Students of all ages need a healthy sleep schedule to function, learn and grow,” said Family Nurse Practitioner Katherine M. Freeman, of Rome Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, when it comes to health, school alertness and performance, school-aged children and pre-teens should get 10-11 hours of sleep each night and adolescents need a little more than nine hours.

“A well-rested child will be energetic, subject to better grades and have a positive attitude,” Freeman explained. “A tired student may be prone to behavioral problems.”

Follow these tips to resume healthy school sleep schedules:

Gradually adjust sleep and waking schedules two weeks before the start of school.

Keep this schedule even on weekends. This will make sure children and teens are getting the sleep they need and help set their biological clocks to the new schedule.

Promote a relaxing bedtime routine appropriate for the student’s age.

Create a cool, dimly lit and comfortable sleep environment.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom. This includes video games, televisions, computers and cell phones. Use of electronics within an hour before bed can lead to poor sleep.

Avoid caffeine, especially after lunch.

Help your children eat well and exercise regularly as both promote sleep.

“Sleep is vital to health at all ages. If your children have trouble with sleep and wake cycles or wake up in the night frequently, talk with your health care professional as these could be signs of sleep disorders,” Freeman said. “A sleep study may be recommended to help pinpoint the cause of sleep problems and plan appropriate treatment.”

The Sleep Disorders Center at Rome Memorial Hospital treats patients from age 2 to 99.

Pediatric sleep studies often reveal that children’s sleep problems are more related to outside influences rather than an underlying disorder. Children require deeper and longer periods of sleep than adults do, and this can become a problem for children whose parents do not enforce a bedtime that allows them to get the amount of sleep needed.

Their sleep patterns may also be affected by eating too late in the evening, having a television on in the room where they sleep or playing with toys or video games in bed until they fall asleep. 

Physical problems that may affect children’s sleep include large tonsils and/or adenoids that cause loud snoring and breathing problems at night. Children may need a sleep study if they do have a snoring problem, seem to be restless at night, or fall asleep on the bus or at school. Some children diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity are also poor sleepers.

A sleep study is a painless test which monitors brain waves, eye movement, chin movement, chest and leg movements, air flow, and oxygen levels while the patient sleeps. Data collected from the sleep study is interpreted in a report for the referring physician.

Parents stay right in the bedroom with their child during the sleep study. The parent sleeps on a cot or recliner next to the child’s bed. The child receives one-on-one care from the sleep technicians, who take extra care to make sure that the patient is comfortable with the equipment being used. After the technician has the child hooked up to all the monitoring devices, they allow them to pick a special toy or stuffed animal as a keepsake of their visit to the Sleep Disorders Center.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Rome Memorial Hospital is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). The Sleep Disorders Center is located within the hospital which gives the patients comfort in knowing that full time security is always available as well as critical care trained staff. The center offers hotel-like rooms, complete with queen size memory foam beds, a private bath in every room.

If you feel that your child’s sleep problems may be caused by more than just adjusting to a new school schedule, you may schedule an appointment with Freeman or Pulmonologist Mohammed Seedat at Rome Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine by calling 315-337-3071.

For more information about the Sleep Disorders Center at Rome Memorial Hospital, call 315-338-7242.


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