Making sure your children get enough sleep

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With the return of the school year, it is important for parents to remember the key role sleep can play in a child’s academic success.

Doctor Leyla Akanli with the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent said getting a good night’s sleep not only allows children to focus better in the classroom, but it can also impact their behavior and their physical health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between 5 and 10 years old need 1011 hours of sleep. Teens should be getting 8.59.5 hours of sleep a night.

Dr. Akanli said it is vital to get your children on a consistent sleep schedule, while keeping the distractions at a minimum.

“Bedrooms should be dark and quiet. Appropriate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold and avoiding all the electronics in the bedroom.” said Dr. Akanli. “That means the TV, radio, iPod, iPhone, iPod touch, anything that comes with the ‘i.’ No texting. Bedrooms should only be used for sleep.”

Other tips Dr. Akanli offers include:

  • Maintain a sleep schedule. Once your child’ss sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use weekends to “catch up on sleep.”
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bedtime, start a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath or a bedtime story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
  • Limit television, video games and other electronic distractions before bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals close to betime. A heavy meal may prevent a child from falling asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine. Sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited after noon, and especially at night. A good rule of thumb, is to avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime, as the caffeine can interrupt a child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Be a role model. Set a good example and establish your own regular sleep schedule. Maintain that schedule at home to promote healthy sleep.

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