Tag Archives: sleep

What’s the key to your child getting a good night’s sleep?


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

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As a parent, do you dread the evening hours because bedtime is such a struggle? Do your children do everything they can to delay turning the lights out? Do they experience fear and anxiety when you leave the room? These all-too-common scenarios play out in countless households every evening, leaving mom and dad wondering what they can do to help their kids get the sleep they need without a flood of tears.

Toddlers need an average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep. But, two-thirds of all children younger than 10 experience one or more sleep problems at least three nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Difficulties range from stalling or resisting going to bed to snoring and sleepwalking. Desperate parents are left frustrated as they simply want their little ones to get the sleep they need.

“Kids really need to have that sleep in their bodies to have enough energy to make it through the day, think smart thoughts and grow properly,” says Jennifer Waldburger, a family sleep therapist from Sleepy Planet and consultant for The Jim Henson Company’s “Pajanimals” children’s series. “The idea is to get the child to visualize the process, to understand that it’s normal, healthy and OK to fall asleep.”

Establishing a regular bedtime routine is key, says Waldburger, and anyone putting the child to bed must be on that same schedule.

“Stay consistent. Make sure you stick to that routine and schedule,”stresses Waldburger.

Some simple steps that can be part of a good bedtime routine include:

* Quiet, calm play on the floor. Avoid stimulating toys that are noisy or have flashing lights.

* Rocking and reading story books. Try making up a story together that feels very calming and relaxing and happy for a child. Sing together or listen to calm music.

* Start a favorite ritual, such as saying good night to the stuffed animals or the moon.

* Turn on white noise such as a fan.

* Offer a transitional object and a brief cuddle before leaving the room.

A transitional object is something your child can use to feel safe and comfort himself – such as a small blanket or stuffed animal – and that reminds him of you. It can be especially useful during times of separation, such as at bedtime.-

To thwart your child’s worries about going to sleep alone, try using a transitional object, such as a small stuffed animal starting around the age of one. Recognizable objects can help provide a high level of comfort, although what the child ends up choosing is up to him or her.

Sleep smarts: Sleep is an important part of back-to-school preparation


| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Does your list of school supplies include sleep? Studies say it should, especially for teens.

Only 8 percent of American teenagers are getting the required nine or more hours of sleep needed, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, a recent study published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health” found that more than 60 percent of high school students get less than seven hours of sleep per night. The situation does not improve in college, either. A 2010 study conducted at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota revealed, not surprisingly, that 70 percent of college students get less than the 8 recommended hours of sleep.

While most people have, at times, battled sleep issues, poor sleep habits plague college campuses. Let’s face it – most college kids do not place a premium on a good night’s rest. In addition to sleep falling low on the priority list, most students are sleeping on cheap dorm mattresses and worn out pillows – which can affect sleep quality.

Perhaps reminding your student that there is a proven relationship between healthy sleep habits and academic success might help encourage healthier habits. In 2010, a University of Minnesota study found a significant positive correlation between the amount of sleep per night and GPA. Additionally, as the average number of days per week a student got less than five hours of sleep increased, GPA decreased.

Once a pattern of bad sleep has developed, is it possible for teens and college students to “reset” their internal clocks? Researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine say it is. Suggest that your students try following these tips, a little bit at a time, over several weeks:

* Try your best to avoid caffeine, smoking, alcohol, heavy exercise and heavy snacking (pizza included) at least three hours before bedtime.

* Don’t pull all-nighters or cram for exams late at night. Specifically schedule studying for when you’re most alert so your performance won’t be affected.

* Be as consistent as possible with your sleep habits, ideally aiming to go to bed at the same time each evening and get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

* Wake up at the same time every morning and head outside. Sunlight helps reset circadian rhythms, the body’s internal biological process that rotates around a 24-hour schedule.

* Turn off your cell phone and laptop at night. Besides being a distraction, exposure to light can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep.

* Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep. If you are a light sleeper or your dorm is noisy, try wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Keep the room cool and dark. Make your bed as comfortable as possible. Consider investing in a foam mattress pad and a quality pillow. For example, for around $100, you can purchase a mattress topper and a waterbase pillow, both of which greatly improve head, neck and back support while you sleep.

Countless studies have shown that people who get the right amount of sleep are physically and emotionally healthier – which is of course is something we all want for our children. Getting better grades is just the icing on the cake.