5 Tips to Help Stay Rested This Fall

Aug 21, 2014


Going from the lazy days of summer back to the hectic schedules of the fall can be difficult. Running from school to soccer practice and from the office to dance recitals can be tiring for everyone. Getting proper rest is important for every member of the family from young children to adults.

"Most people only get six and a half or seven hours of sleep a night – less than the recommended eight hours," says Dr. Carl Bazil, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and Sleep Disorders Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. "Even skimping a little each night can lead to drowsiness, memory loss and short tempers, which can affect life both at home and in the classroom."

Dr. Haviva Veler, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center and pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children's Health, adds, "Getting a good night's sleep is imperative to both short-term and long-term health. The second half of the night is when your brain embeds information into your long-term memory. Sleepless nights can impair that process and have a detrimental effect on learning."

Dr. Bazil and Dr. Veler offer tips for staying rested as kids go back to school:

  • Start the back-to-school sleep transition early. Children need to get back to a normal sleep schedule before the first day of school. Start the "early to bed, early to rise" transition by making sure kids get to sleep and wake up at a normal hour a week before school begins. Once a child starts school, it is important for him or her to get a good night's rest instead of napping during the day.
  • Don't pull an all-nighter. Many teens think staying up all night to study will make them ready for a big test, but learning requires sleep. Skipping an hour of sleep can cause memory loss and lack of focus. Teens also need more sleep than adults – nine hours are recommended.
  • Avoid "social jet lag." As students get back to a more regimented sleeping schedule in the fall, staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends can make it hard to get back to a normal sleep schedule at the beginning of the school week. Try to avoid late nights on Friday and Saturday and focus on getting to bed at a normal hour on Sunday night.
  • Shut down the electronics. From tablets and smartphones to televisions and laptops, the number of electronics that fill a household are plentiful. These devices may be used more often in the fall for homework and research, causing an excess of stimulation and delayed sleep. Giving yourself time to wind down without electronics before bed is important, and turning off devices or dimming light screens can help lessen the effects of electronic blue light, which can suppress melatonin.
  • Power up with power naps. Naps can help increase your energy if you need a midday recharge. These naps should be limited to half an hour so your mind does not go into a deep sleep, and you can wake up refreshed without feeling groggy.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive hospitals and a leading provider of inpatient, ambulatory, and preventive care in all areas of medicine. With some 2,600 beds and more that 6,500 affiliated physicians and 20,000 employees, NewYork-Presbyterian had more than 2 million visits in 2013, including close to 15,000 infant deliveries and more than 310,000 emergency department visits. NewYork-Presbyterian comprises six campuses: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently named to the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation. Affiliated with two world-renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service.

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