The Three Rs for Getting Better ZZZs This School Year.

If your children are like most, they are squeezing out every last drop of summer vacation. No doubt bedtime has slipped later and later during the past few months. Unless you and your children are prepared, the early morning wakeup call for the first day of school can be a rude awakening.

It seems everyone has their own tricks for getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe counting sheep or grabbing a glass of warm milk is your thing. Gwyneth Paltrow has adopted a technique she calls: “clean sleeping.” You’ve probably heard of “clean eating” but clean sleeping? It’s pretty simple, according to Paltrow, clean sleeping is trying to get good, quality sleep on a consistent basis. It sounds simple but that’s much easier said than done for most families trying to navigate a full schedule of activities for each family member.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” No doubt getting your children well-rested and back on track for the rigors of school following a summer of frolic and fun can quickly become a family health problem.

We’re all familiar with the three Rs when it comes to education: reading, writing and arithmetic. Richard Castriotta, M.D., FCCP, FAASM, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and professor and director of the division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, offers his three Rs for sound sleep that can help get your child back on schedule before the school bell rings.

  1. Retrain: Your child has no doubt been staying up late and sleeping “in” most of the summer. Dr. Castriotta says it’s important to retrain your child back to his/her regular sleep schedule. He recommends shifting bedtime and wake-up times a little (15 minutes) each night leading up to the start of school to help ease your child back into their normal sleep routine for school.
  2. Reduce: Blue light from smart phones, tablets, computers and televisions actually signals the brain to wake up. Dr. Castriotta says it’s important to reduce your child’s screen time leading up to bedtime to eliminate that stimulation to the brain. Most important is to avoid electronic gaming that engages the brain in interactive and stimulating action.
  3. Restful: Your child’s room should be dark, quiet and comfortable at night to create a restful environment conducive to sound sleep. The body’s core temperature should drop at night as we fall asleep and stay asleep.

If you or someone in your family is struggling with sleep issues, Memorial Hermann is able to assist you at one of our 11 convenient Houston-area locations. For more information about our Sleep Centers, visit our website.

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