Get electronics out of the bedroom to help kids get enough sleep

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This may surprise some parents, but school-aged kids up to age 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night.  Teens need eight to nine-and-a-half hours.

Dr. Keven Smith, a specialist in sleep behavior medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospital, says parents should set a sleep schedule for their kids.  See that have a regular time to go to bed and a regular time to get up.

“It’s tough especially with teens.  I think there are a number of factors.  Busy schedules, sports, and other extracurricular activities plus homework can sometimes mean late nights.  So having a really good bedtime and basically knowing what time they need to wake and subtracting back those hours — that’s the best place to start,” says Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith says sleep affects many aspects of our lives ranging from physical and emotional health to school performance.  He says it’s important to create the right environment for sleep in your child’s bedroom.

“Probably one of the reasons why I have a job is because of electronics in the bedroom.  And that’s not just TVs these days.  In fact, I think more so, it’s the portable electronics — the cell phones, the tablets.  They do a great job of tricking our brain to not produce chemicals you need to produce to help us fall asleep — specifically melatonin,” says Dr. Smith.

He says in a perfect world, there would be no electronics in the bedroom.

“At the very least, I would say try to decrease the amount, and start with the portable ones.  In fact, make it a family effort.  Everbody’s cell phone can go on the kitchen counter and recharge and then pick them up the next day,” says Dr. Smith.

He emphasizes that sleep is not optional.

“A little bit of investment in a good sleep routine, getting enough sleep and getting good quality sleep — you’ll see a change during the day.  It’s worth it,” says Dr. Smith.

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