Preparing for "Back to School" After Summer Vacation

By Gary Trock, M.D., and Debbie Adsit, OTR, Beaumont Hospital

Q: My family has had a fun, busy summer. Now that school is just a few weeks away, how can I best prepare my children for their school routine without cutting short their summer fun?

A:  "You are smart to realize that after a long summer, most students need to reset their biological clocks. A lack of sleep can adversely affect performance, attention span and physical health," says Gary Trock, M.D., director of pediatric neurology and co-director of Sleep Evaluation Services at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. "Parents need to make sure their children go to bed earlier each night."  

It's important that students have a period of 10-14 days to readjust. To be effective, it must be a gradual process. Trock also cautions parents not to let their children sleep in on the weekend. This will undo their best attempts to reset their internal clocks for the coming school year. Sunlight exposure each morning is important too.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers the following tips to ensure children and teens get a restful night's sleep:
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Make the bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool. Do not have computers or televisions in a bedroom.
  • Get up the same time every morning.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medication that has a stimulant, before bedtime.
  • Don't go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime.
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of bedtime.

For more information contact: Gary Trock, M.D., director of pediatric neurology and co-director of Sleep Evaluation Services at Beaumont, Royal Oak toll-free at 888-717-5337 or Debbie Adsit, O.T.R., Beaumont Rehabilitation Services at 248-5660 and 248-855-4480.

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