Contact: Jodie Snyder
PHOENIX (Aug. 29, 2017) – Now that your kids are back in school, are their teachers already sending home warning notes about their classroom performance? Students’ lack of attention in class and poor efforts at homework could be caused by an unlikely culprit: their sleep schedules.
This is especially true at the beginning of the school year.
While they are off from school, kids’ bedtimes vary widely and getting them back into a routine can be difficult yet necessary to help them in school, says Walter Castro, MD, a Banner Health pediatric pulmonologist and sleep-medicine specialist who practices in Glendale and Mesa.
“During summer, kids’ sleep schedules go haywire,’’ said Castro, who sees more sleep-deprived students at this time of year. “But ongoing problems with sleep can affect their school performance now and make them more susceptible to health problems later on in life.’’
In his practice, Castro treats all types of pediatric sleep problems, from two-year-olds who can’t get to sleep because of behavioral issues to teenagers who can’t get up for school because their hormones want them to hit the snooze button again.
Castro offers some tips on how parents can help their children get back on track when it comes to sleeping:
Limit screen time before bedtime: Cutting down computer time is critical for several reasons. Electronic devices can emit bright lights that can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. In addition to the bright lights, the devices’ content– whether it is a video game or even a phone call – can also be stimulating and make it more difficult for kids to fall asleep.
More exercise: A good bout of physical activity can help kids fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night. Just make sure exercise happens several hours before bedtime.
Understand hormones: For high-schoolers entering puberty, their hormones can make it difficult for them to fall asleep earlier than 10 p.m. Sometimes, there is a change in their sleep/wake clock that causes them to have a shift in their circadian rhythms that turns them into night owls. In some cases, Castro can prescribe them melatonin to help fall asleep easier.
Develop a routine: A nighttime ritual, that can include taking a shower in dim light and reading from a non-electronic book, can help signal a child’s mind and body that it’s time to sleep. A bonus: darkness can also help produce melatonin.
About Banner Health
Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.