Maimonides doctor says kids need 10-12 hours of sleep
Here’s an unusual back-to-school tip for parents: Children need plenty of ZZZs in order to learn the three Rs.
A sleep specialist at Maimonides Medical Center said a good night’s rest is vital if a youngster hopes to master reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, as the old saying goes.
Dr. Monita Mendiratta, director of Pediatric Sleep Medicine at the Maimonides Infants & Children’s Hospital, said achieving a successful back-to-school sleep routine for children requires parents to plan ahead.
And parents shouldn’t wait for school to start on Sept. 9 to get their kids in a good sleeping pattern, she said.
“Parents should start adjusting sleep schedules before school starts. In order for your child to be prepared for school, the whole family should return gradually to a regular evening and morning schedule,” Mendiratta said.
Numerous studies have shown a good night’s sleep means better grades in school, Mendiratta said. Most children between the ages of five and 12 need 10-12 hours of sleep per night, she said.
Mendiratta offered several tips for parents seeking to get their families back on a healthy sleep schedule prior to the start of the new school term.
Among her top recommendations are: gradually adjust sleep and wake schedules by sending kids to bed 30 minutes earlier and waking them up 30 minutes earlier in the morning several days before the school year begins; create bedtime routines such as baths or showers, bedtime stories and goodnight kisses; avoid big meals and sugary or caffeinated drinks near bedtime; avoid large quantities of liquids before bedtime because drinking a large amount of liquid before sleeping can create unnecessary bathroom trips throughout the night and can disturb a child’s sleep cycle; keep the child’s extracurricular activities to a manageable level, allowing time for relaxation before bedtime every night; and avoid daytime naps.
In addition, Mendiratta recommends that parents make the child’s bedroom a comfortable environment by making sure the room is dark and that the bed and temperature are comfortable. It is recommended that room temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees.
Another tip: Keep televisions out of children’s bedrooms. If a child needs a night light, Mendiratta suggests plugging it into an area where the light won’t directly shine onto the child’s face. Direct light can interfere with a child’s ability to sleep.
“The most important thing parents can do is be consistent,” Mendiratta said. “Children will be better prepared to learn, have stronger immune systems and better overall health if they regularly get a good night’s sleep.”
Parents who have followed the recommendations and still find that the child is struggling with sleep should consult their pediatricians for advice.
The Maimonides Infants & Children’s Hospital, located within Maimonides Medical Center at 4802 10th Ave. in Borough Park, offers a wide array of pediatric services.
For more information on the hospital, visit its website at http://www.maimonidesmed.org/Pediatrics/MICH.aspx.
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