Physician Offers Tips on Getting Kids Back to School
after Summer of Slumber
STRATFORD — It’s an annual September ritual. The start of the school day beckons and parents try to rouse their children early while their kids - steeped in summertime slumber habits - yearn for “just a few more minutes” of shut-eye. According to Dr. Thomas Morley, a sleep specialist at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, a little planning now can help eliminate these conflicts before the calendar turns to September.
“If your children have spent the summer months sleeping late or going without a regular wake time, they’re not going to respond well to a sudden schedule change, particularly one that involves getting up early and rushing to get ready,” Dr. Morley, a professor of Pulmonary Medicine at the medical school and the medical director at the Kennedy Health System’s Sleep Centers. “The best approach is to start changing behavior gradually and let your children have some input in determining these changes.”
Dr. Morley offers these tips to keep peaceful those first early mornings after Labor Day:
· Make sure your children are getting enough sleep. Pre-schoolers need about 12 hours per night; elementary schoolchildren should have about 10 hours and teenagers need a minimum of eight hours sleep per night.
· Take note of your children’s sleep schedule now and where they need to be for the first day of school.
· Before changing sleep schedules, talk to your children about why changes are needed and listen to suggestions they may have.
· Beginning one or two weeks before school starts, send children to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night.
· Keep an eye on your child’s diet. Don’t give sugary snacks just before bedtime and never allow pre-teens to consume caffeinated drinks.
· Establish bedtime routines, especially for smaller children, such as 15 minutes of reading or story time before the children are expected to go to sleep.
· Minimize or eliminate noise from other parts of the house. Turn televisions off or keep volumes very low.
To request an interview with Dr. Morley, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.