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Are your school-age children getting enough sleep?

Hospital news | Thursday, August 28, 2014

Contact: Kris Lawrence

“Just like a healthy diet and exercise, sleep is critical for school-age children to stay healthy, grow, learn, do well in school, and function at their best,” states Laurie Fritz, CRT, Respiratory Therapy Department Director at Crossing Rivers Health, formerly known as Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital. “As a Sleep Study site, our department received research findings that the primary consequences of poor sleep among children and adolescents are behavior problems, impaired learning and school performance, mood and emotional problems, and worse health including obesity. Concerning new evidence also indicates that adolescents’ sleep may be related to high-risk behaviors such as substance use, suicidal behaviors, and drowsy driving.”

A recent study found that greater media use in teens was linked to higher body mass index, largely because of reduced sleep time. It is not just a matter of getting sufficient sleep quantity—children and adolescents also need adequate sleep quality. Young children can be deceptively hyperactive with insufficient sleep or because of a sleep disorder. Any child or adolescent (or parent) who snores, falls asleep at inappropriate times, or has other sleep disorder symptoms should be thoroughly evaluated.

A major developmental change during adolescence is that the body’s clock moves to a later timing for sleep. This is only thought to be about one hour of a change, and another two hours of change is due to social factors, such as work pressures and access to technology.

The Respiratory Therapy/Sleep Study staff at Crossing Rivers Health encourage families to address these challenges by working together to make sleep a priority so everyone can sleep as much as they need in a safe, quiet, comfortable environment. A recent study also showed that reducing screen time, increasing sleep, and eating dinner together helped children maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, help students understand sleep is as important to their health as nutrition and exercise.

To learn if a diagnostic sleep study may benefit a family member, individuals may contact their healthcare provider or call Crossing Rivers Health at 608-357-2000. Check out the website, crossingrivers.org, for health resources including health assessments, quizzes and interactive.