News Release

August 7, 2009

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Back-to-School Sleep Habits Start Well Before Summer Ends

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Now – not the night before the first day of school – is the time to get students back to a school-year sleep routine, say sleep experts at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

“A lot of us tend to wait until the last day of summer vacation before we get strict with our kids about bedtime,” says Dr. Daniel McNally, medical director of the UConn Health Center’s Sleep Disorders Center. “And we find ourselves asking, ‘Why are the kids not sleeping?’”

It’s not bedtime, but wake time that resets the body clock, McNally says. “So the trick is to get into the habit of waking up earlier for at least a few weeks before the first day of school and let the body adjust for summer’s late bedtime habits. This is especially true for adolescents and teens, who are most vulnerable to what we call sleep phase shift – they simply want to go to bed late and wake up late.”

Typical adolescent sleep habits are correctable, and sleep disorders are treatable if diagnosed properly. Dr. Jennifer Papa Kanaan, who specializes in sleep disorders in children and teens, says it’s important to catch and treat sleep disorders before they lead to other problems.

“Inadequate sleep can lead to academic difficulties, social difficulties and family difficulties,” Kannan says. “Research shows that snoring and sleep apnea are predictive of lower-than expected IQ scores in kids and other problems with performance.”

Kanaan oversees the Health Center’s pediatric sleep clinic, which treats patients as young as 2 years old.

“There’s science behind this, and therapy to help it,” McNally says. “For instance, we now know there are things we can do with light therapy and melatonin supplementation, in terms of dosage and timing, that have proven effective in the more severe cases.”

More information about the UConn Health Center’s Sleep Disorders Center is available at or by calling 860-679-4090.

Photo of Dr. Kanaan:
Photo of Dr. McNally:

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