School’s back in session for Iowa kids and a sleep expert says readjusting to the schedule can lead to problems of not enough sleep. Dr. Stephen Grant of Iowa Sleep in West Des Moines says it can be a problem for kids regardless of their age.
“Basically school-aged children aged six to 12 years, these children need on average nine to 12 hours a night of sleep. And it’s rare that I see any of these kids getting more than eight on average,” Grant says. “And especially in the adolescents it’s even more salient that they believe they need even less sleep, when in fact they need at least nine hours themselves. But on average, the average teenager that I see gets about seven hours a night.”
Grant says the kids may also think they can catch up by sleeping in on the weekends — but that’s not the case. “It actually takes you about three days to catch up on your sleep, it’s nothing that you can do in one fell swoop,” he explains. It’s a matter of adjusting the schedules so the kids have the time they need. Dr. Grant says the method varies based on the age of the children.
“In the school-age children it’s kind of just getting more of ceremony or kind of the expectation that sleep will happen sooner. But in the adolescents it’s really kind of reining in some screen time or some smartphone time, or just allowing the teenager to winnow in on the potential of what life could be like with eight or nine hours under their belt instead of seven,” according to Grant.
Making sure the kids sleep at the proper time is a key or they could suffer from “delayed sleep phase.” “Given their own proclivity to define a sleep period, they would probably want to go to bed about maybe one or two o’clock in the morning and then sleep until 10 or eleven the next morning,” Grant says. “And if you take a look at it that would be perhaps a sufficient degree of sleep, but the timing of it radically impairs their pyscho-social functioning. School starts at eight o’clock in the morning and they need to be up and going and prepared. And these children suffer from delayed sleep phase, and it’s a real struggle for them.”
The doctor says he gets a lot of questions from parents about kids talking or walking in their sleep and snoring. For the most part, he says it’s not a major concern. He says about 40-percent of most adolescents sleep walk, and most eventually outgrow it by the age of 15. “And snoring in and of itself does not predict that these children have obstructive sleep apnea, but there is some concordance between patients that snore and the possibility of sleep disruptive breathing — specifically obstructive sleep apnea,” Grant says.
Grant says if adjusting your child’s schedule does not do the trick and allow them to get enough sleep, then you can see someone like him who is a sleep specialist.