The days are getting shorter and cooler temperatures are on the way.  As difficult as it may be, families are having to face the reality that beach days are about to turn into school days.   And that means it’s time to face another reality:  Summer sleep schedules are not conducive to a well-rested family during the school year.

Karren Vlahos-Bronson Photo

Dr. Karren Vlahos of Bronson Family Medicine in Marshall was a guest on the WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins and offered tips to avoid the shock of the early wake-up alarm and for the transition to fall sleep schedules.

“Parents are going to want to use these last few weeks of summer to try to get their kids back onto a good schedule,” said Dr. Vlahos.  “Typically what we recommend is a slow transition back from their summer schedule to a normal sleep schedule. Try to have your kid's bedtime be a little bit earlier each day.   So,  say your kid goes to bed during the school year at 9:00 PM, and currently, they're going to bed at around midnight.   We're going to want to start having them go to bed about 15-20 minutes earlier each day for two and a half to three weeks, and start having them wake up about 15-20 minutes earlier each day until they're back onto their normal schedule.

How much sleep should a kid be getting?

  • Ages 3-5 11-15 hours of sleep each night
  • Ages 5-14 9-13 hours of sleep each night
  • Ages 14 and older 7-10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Adults: 8 hours of sleep each night

Dr. Vlahos offered tips on good sleep hygiene techniques that anyone can use to have the best chance of getting a good night's sleep.

  • Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and cool.
  • Avoid screens, including cell phones, TVs, tablets, and computers. These should not be in the bedroom at all.
  • Avoid screens 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Make sure that your child is exercising and active during the daytime.
  • If your child isn't able to fall asleep after 20 minutes of getting into bed, have them get up and do something calming or relaxing like meditation or reading.
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Dr. Vlahos also cautions that long naps can be counterproductive.  “About 20 to 30 minutes is ok, but we definitely don't want them to exceed an hour.”

Dr. Vlahos advises parents to avoid starting any medications for a child without consulting a doctor first.  Although most of the over-the-counter medications are fairly safe, she said they can still have side effects and risks. 

Dr. Karren Vlahos, DO, practices at Bronson Family Medicine in Marshall at 212 Winston Drive. You can reach Dr. Vlahos at (269) 781-9867.  Or visit the website.

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