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Back to school: Getting kids back on a normal sleep schedule

Editor’s note: This post was developed by Michael Howell, M.D., a University of Minnesota neurologist and sleep expert.

It’s that time of year again. From preschoolers to the one-year-to-go high school seniors, students across Minnesota need to adjust their schedules after a summer of flexible sleep times.

This is particularly challenging for teenagers whose body clocks are naturally inclined to run later and due to the long summer days of late sunlight exposure.  This combination creates a delay in a child’s circadian rhythm leading to anxious nights of being unable to sleep followed by impaired, groggy mornings.

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In the News: University of Minnesota doctor discusses America’s sleep problems

Oftentimes when people think of the consequences of poor sleep they think crabbiness and irritability. While those are two outcomes of poor sleep, there are many more serious consequences that can occur.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 41,000 Americans are injured or killed in car crashes caused by drowsy drivers. The amount is second to alcohol-related accidents. As stated in the same report, roughly 62 percent of Americans report having trouble falling asleep more than a few nights per week.

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In the news: Tips for a good night’s sleep

It may be worth it to think twice before picking up your iPad, tablet or laptop computer before bedtime. Using technology devices with bright screens could negatively affect the amount of sleep we are getting, which in correlation affects our brain health.

In a recent interview with KARE 11, Michael Howell, M.D., director of the Sleep Medicine Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, shared five tips concerning how to get a better night’s sleep:

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Research snapshot: Veterans with lower socioeconomic status sleep less, may suffer related health issues

Regularly sleeping fewer than six hours per night has been linked to a number of health problems including cardiovascular disease, poor mental health, and other life-threatening diseases.

Now, new research published in the American Journal of Public Health from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota highlights socioeconomic disparities in sleep duration among veterans who served in the U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Research found these veterans are at an increased risk of not getting enough sleep, and suffering the resulting consequences.

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Health Talk recommends: Sleepless in America

In previous posts, Health Talk has detailed the importance of sleep and its many health benefits. A new television series on the National Geographic Channel called “Sleepless in America” along with The Public Good Projects and National Institutes of Health highlights the need for sleep along with some of the “shocking life-threatening consequences of its absence.”

Watch this trailer for more.

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In the News: Getting your baby to sleep through the night

One of the trickiest parts of parenthood, especially new parents, is getting your baby to sleep through the night. Not only is it important for your little one to get the sleep they need, it’s important for parents to get enough rest so you can continue to care for your new addition.

University of Minnesota neurologist, sleep expert, and father of three, Michael Howell, M.D., combined personal experience and years of research to develop a five step process to keep babies sleeping throughout the night.

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