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Sunday, February 25, 2018

For Children: Sleep Hygiene and Sleep Debt

From NESCA News & Notes

By Rebecca Girard, LICSW, CAS
February 19, 2018

For many students, teachers, and families in Massachusetts (and several other states throughout the country), this week marks a vacation and a time for rest. In that spirit, this week on NESCA News & Notes, we are highlighting the importance of good sleep hygiene for children, a vital element of wellness, mental health, and learning.

Check out this short TEDx talk by Roxanne Prichard of the University of St Thomas about the importance of sleep for children. Highlights of the talk include:
  • Sleep is an essential for a healthy brain;
  • United States school children are ranked 1st among nations with academic problems directly attributable to sleepiness;
  • A 2014 Sleep in America poll found that fewer than 1 in 5 teens is getting the minimum amount of recommended sleep.

Benefits of a good night’s sleep include:
  • Better regulated vital systems including growth and immune responses;
  • Better memory and ability to retain new information;
  • Boosts mood.

Tips for good sleep health (according to the CDC):
  • Be consistent. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends (as much as possible);
  • Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature;
  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom;
  • Avoid screens 30 minutes before bedtime. Promote reading, drawing or another quiet, non-screen activity to wind down;
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and sugar right before bedtime;
  • Make sure your child is getting some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help a child fall asleep more easily at night.

So how much sleep does a child need?

For more information on Dr. Roxanne Prichard as well as sleep hygiene, visit the following web sites:

About the Author

Rebecca Girard, LICSW, CAS is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in neurodivergent issues, sexual trauma, and international social work. She has worked primarily with children, adolescents, adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families for over a decade.

Ms. Girard is highly experienced in using Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as well as Socio-dramatic Affective Relational Intervention (SDARI), in additional to a number of other modalities.

She is excited to provide enhanced psychotherapy to children with ASD at NESCA as well as to provide therapeutic support to youth with a range of mood, anxiety, social and behavioral challenges. Her approach is child-centered, strengths-based, creative and compassionate.

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