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Child Sleep Tips for Parents

Dr. Daniel McNally, of the UConn Health Center, shared tips for parents from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Impress upon your children the importance of sleep. Tell them sleeping is a good thing; never a punishment.
  • Know how much sleep your children need and take the necessary steps to ensure they get it.
  • Teach your children good sleep habits. Set a regular bedtime and give them a comfortable sleeping space that is cool, quiet and dark.
  • Computers and televisions can distract children from sleeping. Keep them out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeinated colas and energy drinks hours before bedtime.

Source: Dr. Daniel McNally and the National Sleep Foundation at


As reported by The Norwich Bulletin, August 22, 2005.

Students Urged to Change Summer Slumber Habits

By Jason Tsai

Getting ready for the first day of school means more than buying back-to-school supplies and clothes.

Even more importantly, children should be well-rested and on a regular sleeping schedule, said Dr. Daniel McNally of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

McNally and other sleep experts encourage parents to set up a sleep schedule for their children well before the first day of school. This gets children back into the habit of regular rest and healthy eating patterns.

"There is nothing that will make a child better prepared for the first day of school, or any school day, than a good night's sleep," McNally said. "Kids who regularly get enough sleep will be alert and ready to learn."

McNally recommended parents push back bedtimes 10 to 15 minutes each night until the ideal bedtime is reached. Children ages 5 to 12 need about 10 hours of sleep a night, he said.

"If your grammar school-aged children stay up until 10 and wake up at 9, you need to scale back a couple of hours on bedtime," McNally said.

Teens, on the other hand, need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep a night. But McNally warned teens' internal clocks contradict school hours.

According to the National Health Foundation, an independent nonprofit dedicated to sleep and sleep disorders, puberty changes the timing of teens' internal body clocks, or circadian clocks.

Getting used to an early morning school schedule can be difficult for many adolescents, because many teens go to bed late during summer vacation and wake late in the morning -- a pattern that more closely resembles their internal clocks than a school year schedule.

Stuart Bryan, 32, and his wife, Vicki, 31, don't have to worry about irregular teenage sleeping hours -- at least not for a while. Daughter Stephanie, 5, will start kindergarten this year at Wildwood Christian School, and son Gregory, 11, will be a sixth-grade student at Kelly Middle School in Norwich.

"The best way to keep them on a good schedule is not to take them off the schedule in the first place," Stuart Bryan said Saturday. Stephanie and Gregory are put to bed at 8:30 p.m. each night, except Wednesdays, when the family returns home late after church service.

"I don't think we should have trouble with getting them back into a sleeping schedule this year," Stuart Bryan said. "But we'll see what happens."