Experts Recommend A Healthy Sleep Routine, Treatment Of Sleep Disorders
A lack of adequate rest and sleep disorders like sleep apnea will derail the best efforts of many students returning to school over the coming weeks.
Four out of 10 children don't get enough sleep and more than 2 million children nationwide suffer from sleep disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sleep is essential to school performance because it gives children's bodies and brains time to grow, gives their tissues and central nervous system time to undergo necessary repairs and is essential for learning and memory consolidation, said Sangeeta Chakravorty, MD, director of Children's Sleep Program.
"Families are adding more and more activities to their children's calendars and children have more homework than ever before, so sleep is the one area students borrow time from in order to meet these expectations," Dr. Chakravorty said. "Unfortunately, getting less sleep means they inadvertently sabotage their own school performance. At a minimum, kids ages 6 - 12 need 10 hours of sleep a night and teenagers need about 9 hours to maximize their learning potential at school."
Complicating matters is the increasing incidence of pediatric sleep disorders that prevent children from getting a full night's rest. These disorders include insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea (associated with an increase in childhood obesity), nightmares and night terrors.
Children's Sleep Program offers inpatient sleep studies which are conducted during an overnight stay in the hospital and outpatient sleep studies which are offered at a specially designed testing site next to Children's North in Wexford. This center includes four sleep rooms with comfortable beds for both patients and parents, decorated in a child-friendly fashion.
During these sleep studies, monitors record a patient's snoring, pulse, breathing patterns, sleep stages, oxygenation and exhaled carbon dioxide. These recordings are evaluated the following day by a sleep medicine specialist at Children's. The specialist can then develop a comprehensive treatment program that incorporates lifestyle changes and medical therapy.
"Often, children who aren't getting adequate sleep perform poorly at school or exhibit behavioral issues. Unfortunately, families and educators don't always immediately realize that a lack of sleep may be a major contributor to these problems, so they persist," Dr. Chakravorty. "Parents are often very surprised to learn that the diagnosis of a sleep disorder and the implementation of a treatment program alleviate these problems."