Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

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New routines head off problems with sleepy kids

October 13, 2008

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For some parents, Dr. Seuss' "I'm Not Going to Get Up Today" paints an accurate picture of morning routines.

If you have trouble getting your children up in the morning, here are some tips:

1. Get them to bed on time. Henry L. Johns, director of Sleep Center at Pulmonary & Sleep Associates in Topeka, says children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, and teens need eight to nine hours.

Local mother Jane Graves says she always puts her kids to bed by 8 p.m. but admits it's not easy, since her children don't participate in activities that occur after 6 p.m.

"It's hard, sometimes, to make that choice, but I know that in the long run, their sleep is much more important than being a part of any particular sport or play," she says.

2. So much for sleeping in on the weekend. Johns says keeping wake-up times consistent during the week maintains the body's internal clock.

3. Here comes the sun. Letting sunlight into a bedroom triggers us to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps determine sleep cycles. And for those winter months when kids need to be up before the sun, you can always try a Sunclock alarm. Instead of sound, this device uses light to gradually light up the room and get those eyes squinting.

4. Make it fun. Elizabeth Moore, an administrator at Parents as Teachers and mother of a 5-year-old, points out the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. "Develop a morning routine and make it happy and fun," she says. "Know that you're going to screw up sometimes. They'll be late for school, there will be tantrums, but it'll all get worked out."

Lawrence mother Pam O'Brien has found a surefire way to make her kids smile in the morning.

"Some days I get our dog to help out," she says. "She jumps in bed and starts licking them. They always wake up happy to dog kisses."

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