Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Back-to-school sleep help

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Monday on Sunrise, Dr. Alicia Arnold sat down with WEAU's Andrew Fefer to share some sleep scheduled tips, and discuss how much sleep we really need.

Andrew: What are the recommendations for the amount of sleep we should get?

Dr. Arnold: The amount of sleep a person needs varies with the individual and the individual's age. The National Sleep Foundation offers us some "rule of thumb" ranges. They suggest school age children (from 5-10 years old) should have 10-11 hours of sleep, teens (10-17 years old) should sleep 8.5-9.25 hours, and adults need 7-9 hours. Many Americans report sleeping far less than these amounts and research has shown that adults who report sleeping less than 7-9 hours a night were more likely to have difficulty performing daily tasks.

Andrew: What are some of the problems that can be caused by not sleeping enough?

Dr. Arnold: Getting insufficient amount of sleep has been linked with many adverse outcomes, like driving accidents and errors at work. Individuals who are not getting enough sleep are more likely to have health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression. The reported reasons people may not be getting enough sleep include busy work schedules, around the clock access to technology, as well as health conditions like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.

Andrew: What are some suggestions for getting children on a better sleep schedule before the school year?

Dr. Arnold: A week or two before school starts, have your kids go to bed a little earlier each night and get up a little earlier in the morning, so that they are able to get a full night's rest before the first morning of school. It's difficult, but try to maintain that schedule on weekends as well, rather than sleeping in. Remove electronic distractions like TV and video games from kids' rooms. Over half of teens report bedroom computer use and texting in the hour before going to sleep. Partaking in these activities so close to bedtime has been associated with a less good night's rest. Try to avoid caffeine after lunch, and avoid large meals or heavy exercise right before bed. Additional tips for adults include not smoking or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.

Andrew: Any tips for parents with younger children?

Dr. Arnold: A recent research study in the journal Pediatrics focused on media use in preschoolers. They found that replacing violent or age inappropriate programming with educational content helped kids sleep better. So paying attention to what kind of TV or videos your children are watching may help improve their sleep. Early childhood sleep problems have been associated with behavioral problems, difficulty in school, and obesity, so it is worthwhile to try to take steps to try to improve sleep when possible.

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