Tag Archives: performance

Children’s Sleep and School Success

Children’s Sleep and School Success – How they are related
School start is on the horizon. For those with children this can be a busy time, doing those last minute summer activities, getting school supplies, and preparing children for a successful year. Let’s take the time to get children on a good sleep schedule that will help them in school.

Children’s Sleep
Why is it important to think about children’s sleep? To start, many children simply don’t get enough hours of sleep. Here’s how much sleep kids need:
• children 3 to 5 years old need more than 11 hours
• children 6 to 12 years old need 10 to 11 hours
• teenagers need 9 to 9.5 hours
Looking at the school start times here in Seattle, and allowing just one hour from wake-up to being at school, grade school children should be sleeping by 9pm, middle schoolers by 9:30p, and high school students by 9:30-10pm. (If your child needs more than 1 hour from wake-up to school start time then move bedtime earlier accordingly). Are your children getting to sleep at that time? If not, your child is probably feeling the effects of insufficient sleep.
Impacts of Insufficient Sleep
Going to school can be demanding, children are asked to concentrate, learn physical skills, and develop socially with their peers. Here are some highlights:
• Only 20% of children grades 6-12 get the necessary amount of sleep (>9 hrs)! Can you believe it?! In younger children, only 47% get the sleep they need.
• Increased playground injuries in children who sleep <10 hours.
• Children with insufficient sleep are more likely to be angry, depressed, or overly emotional. Kids who sleep less take more risks, and this is especially true in teens.
• Cognitive effects include impaired memory, creative problem solving, and decreased verbal fluency, all skills that your child needs in school

What you can do to improve your child’s sleep:
• Establish bedtimes for your children, so everyone in the household knows the standard. You may want to have a time when everyone finishes their activities and starts to “wind down.”
• Start a trend in your social group of starting activities early enough that they usually end an hour before bedtime. This gives you time to travel home safely, and wind down a little before going to sleep.
• Remove electronic media from your child’s bedroom so they are not tempted to continue with homework, TV, or texting after bedtime
• Kids (and parents) can get excited about activities. Emphasize quality wake hours rather than quantity. Is it really fun to stay up late if you are so tired that you can’t think or are teary the next day?
• Allow your children to catch up on sleep on the weekends or vacations if necessary. The golden standard is to wake up on their own, feeling refreshed and energetic throughout the day. If your child sleeps a lot more on weekends, consider moving their school night bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments until it evens out.

How to Handle Shiftwork Well

You can learn to handle shiftwork as well as possible.  Here’s a few beginning steps:

  1. Educate your family or roommates about what you’ll need to sleep well.  This includes quiet without interruptions during your sleep time, a dark and cool room, and as regular a schedule as possible.  Sometimes family members are eager to see you and share their news.  When setting a sleep schedule, also schedule a predictable time that you’ll be available to them.
  2. Make your sleep schedule as consistent as possible over the entire week.
  3. If possible, take a short nap during the middle of your shift.  Be cautious to become fully alert before performing your job duties.
  4. Use caffeine strategically.  Caffeine is more effective as a stimulant if you don’t use it much.  During the night shift, take a serving of caffeine at the time when your alertness starts to dip.  The caffeine will take effect in about 20 minutes, and does improve measures of performance.  Be cautious not to take it so close to bedtime that it interferes with falling asleep.
  5. Limit light exposure on the commute home by taking public transit and wearing blue light blocking sunglasses.

With these strategies, shiftwork should be easier.  A special thanks goes out to all those folks who work nights, keeping the rest of us safe.

The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine focuses on natural care for sleep problems, including shiftwork.  More information is at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net.

Are Naps Healthy?

I get this question all the time from patients who ask “what about naps?” Let me give you a little information about naps and night time sleep. Another day we’ll look at the effect of naps on alertness and performance.

There are several things to know before deciding to take a nap or not. First of all, from the time we wake until the time we go to bed our sleep drive increases. This sleep drive helps us fall asleep easily. When a nap is taken, it decreases our sleep drive back to zero, and there is less time than normal until bedtime, so at bedtime our sleep drive is less than normal. This can result in difficulty falling asleep, or in a short sleep duration.

The second thing to understand is the sleep cycle. There are four stages of sleep – REM, and NonREM stages 1, 2, and 3. Stage 3 is considered “deep” sleep, and is the most difficult to wake up from. We cycle through all these stages every 90-120 minutes. So a short nap of 30 minutes, or a longer nap of an hour and a half is best. This helps avoid waking out of stage 3 sleep and feeling groggy.

So overall, if you are going to take a nap, take it earlier in the day so that your sleep drive has time to build up again before bedtime and help you fall asleep easily. Also time your nap for less than 30, or more than 90 minutes so that you can wake feeling alert, not groggy.

PMS and Sleep

Women of all ages experience sleep changes in response to hormone fluctuations. Today let’s look at the sleep of women during their monthly menstrual cycle.

In 1998, the Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation was all about women’s sleep. Almost 50% of women reported that symptoms such as bloating, headaches, cramps, and breast tenderness interfere with their sleep 2-3 days each month.

Other women report being more sleepy just before their period. This is when progesterone levels are dropping rapidly. One woman shared with me that she needs to sleep an extra hour for the four nights before and during her period. This has been so consistent that she now puts the extra sleep time into her calendar so she can continue to function well on those days. She notices that when she does schedule extra sleep for that week she is less moody, irritable and emotional, has more energy, and can think more clearly.

If you struggle with PMS symptoms, see if getting more sleep helps you maintain a good quality of life during that time. Write to let me know what effect it has for you.

Optimal Sleep

The Most Common Sleep Problem

Once again, in 2008, insufficient sleep was the most common sleep problem in America.   More than 47% of adults and 57% of children get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night.   This chronic partial sleep deprivation can have global health effects, some of which we’ve discussed in past newsletters.   Here are some of the effects:

    – appetite regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin are disordered, causing increased hunger, increased appetite for high caloric, high fat and simple carbohydrate foods, and weight gain
    – physical agility, coordination and reaction time are impaired, contributing to drowsy driving auto accidents
    – irritability and mood impairment increases
    – memory, concentration and creative problem solving are impaired

The Optimal Sleep Test

We’re raising awareness of insufficient sleep by sponsoring The Optimal Sleep Test.   Sleep optimization is done by researchers to determine how much sleep is ideal.   During sleep optimization participants spend much more time in bed and allow themselves to sleep as long as they can, and wake on their own without an alarm.   Participants will commonly sleep hours extra for the first couple weeks, and then their sleep will settle into a regular nightly amount.

To do The Optimal Sleep Test:
1. Start at the beginning of your weekend, and continue for at least 5 nights.
2. Set your bedtime close to your regular bedtime, maybe 30 minutes earlier.
3. Make your room as dark and quiet as possible, consider turning down phone ringers or other sounds that may disturb you.
4. Allow yourself to sleep as late as possible in the morning, waking without an alarm.
5. At the end evaluate the symptoms above and see how they’ve improved.

You may find that the added sleep benefits you to the point that it is worth having fewer active hours in exchange for feeling better during the time that you are awake!

Children’s Sleep and School Success

It’s time for school to start! For those with children this can be a busy time, doing those last minute summer activities, getting school supplies, and preparing children for a successful year. Let’s take the time to get children on a good sleep schedule that will help them in school.

Children’s Sleep
Why is it important to think about children’s sleep? To start, a majority of children simply don’t get enough hours of sleep. Here’s how much sleep kids need:
– children 3 to 5 years old need more than 11 hours
– children 6 to 12 years old need 10 to 11 hours
– teenagers need 9 to 9.5 hours
Looking at the school start times here in Seattle, and allowing just one hour from wake-up to being at school, grade school children should be sleeping by 9pm, middle schoolers by 9:30p, and high school students by 9:30-10pm. (If your child needs more than 1 hour from wake-up to school start time then move bedtime earlier accordingly). Are your children getting to sleep at that time? If not, your child is probably feeling the effects of insufficient sleep.

Impacts of Insufficient Sleep
Going to school can demanding, children are asked to concentrate, learn physical skills, and develop socially with their peers. Here’s some highlights:
– Only 20% of children grades 6-12 get the necessary amount of sleep (>9 hrs)! Can you believe it?! In younger children, only 47% get the sleep they need.
– Increased playground injuries in children who sleep <10 hours.
– Children with insufficient sleep are more likely to be angry, depressed, or overly emotional. Kids who sleep less take more risks, and this is especially true in teens.
– Cognitive effects include impaired memory, creative problem solving, and decreased verbal fluency, all skills that your child needs in school.

What you can do to improve your child’s sleep:
– Establish bedtimes for your children, so everyone in the household knows the standard. You may want to have a time when everyone finishes their activities and starts to “wind down.”
– Start a trend in your social group of starting activities early enough that they usually end an hour before bedtime. This gives you time to travel home safely, and wind down a little before going to sleep.
– Remove electronic media from your child’s bedroom so they are not tempted to continue with homework, TV, or texting after bedtime.
– Kids (and parents) can get excited about activities. Emphasize quality wake hours rather than quantity. Is it really fun to stay up late if you are so tired that you can’t think or are teary the next day?
– Allow your children to catch up on sleep on the weekends or vacations if necessary. The golden standard is to wake up on their own, feeling refreshed and energetic throughout the day. If your child sleeps a lot more on weekends, consider moving their school night bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments until it evens out.

Insomnia

There are many possible reasons to sleep poorly . . . stressful work, relationship conflict, pregnancy, moving, even summer heat. When your sleep is first disturbed, it can be helpful to keep in mind that everyone’s sleep is disturbed periodically for good reasons. If you’ve recovered from that initial event, but your sleep still remains poor after one month, then it is time to take steps to improve your sleep.
Insomnia is defined as spending more than 30 minutes at the beginning of the night to fall asleep, or awakening in the night for extended periods of time. When this happens most nights of the week for a month or more it is classified as “chronic insomnia.” It’s interesting to note that typically patients wait 7 years before they seek treatment for insomnia. In my clinic, the average duration of adult’s insomnia is closer to 20 years. As we’ll discuss in the future, insomnia has lots of daytime impact on mental, emotional and physical health.