Back to school in UAE: Proper sleep routine essential for children, say doctors

Kids with disorganised sleeping patterns may throw temper tantrums, exhibit bad behaviour



by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 2:37 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 3:06 PM

Doctors in the UAE say getting back into healthy sleep patterns is a necessity now as most students gear up to go back to school from Monday.

They highlight it's important to have the right amount of focus and energy in the classroom, especially after a two-month break.

Dr Rouba Manachi, a specialist paediatrician with Prime Hospital, says, "It is back-to-school time, and children should be well prepared both physically and mentally. A good sleep routine is an essential step to keeping kids healthy. Sleeping early and getting nine to 12 hours of sleep each night is important for every process in the body and helps the brain store information. Proper sleep also helps their immune system to fight diseases and helps in maintaining their weight."

Medics also underline recent studies suggest that 60 per cent of middle school students do not get adequate sleep hours.

"Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality affects our children's behaviour and is associated with depression and anxiety," says Dr Manachi.

Doctors advise following soothing bedtime routines like reading or having a warm bath. They also advise against having caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon and evening and physical exercise before bedtime.

Dr Supriya Sundaram, Consultant Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, says, "During the holiday season, there is usually a loss in the routine of day and night for children. This is especially true in the current scenario when screen time is prolonged. Many children are addicted to the phone or the tab and tend to sleep later and later into the night, causing them to wake up later during the day. The routine of school is lost completely."

"After the holidays, it takes at least one week to reset this irregular timing. A child usually needs a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep. Therefore, children are asked to sleep early, so they can wake up early. Otherwise, they will not get the minimum hours of sleep needed before school."

Healthcare professionals reiterate getting enough sleep is also crucial when it comes to a child's health. Reading stories, singing songs or having a chat together can help develop proper school-year sleep routines.

Dr Abhijeet Trivedi, Specialist Paediatrics and Neonatology, Aster Hospital, Mankhool says, "Research consistently showed that putting kids to bed early is beneficial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Enough sleep makes the child healthier and increases their memory power."

Children who sleep early are also less likely to wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning, says Dr Trivedi. Those who go to sleep later may struggle more at bedtimes, with temper tantrums or exhibit other bad behaviour.

"Early bedtimes and consistent bedtimes builds emotionally secure feelings for your child, which help him to have a state of peace."

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Some tips for children to sleep well before they return to school include:

1. The meal timings need to go back to the original schedule. Give children an early dinner so they can go to bed early.

2. Cut screentime. Children should not be allowed to use electronic devices like tabs and phones beyond 7pm, so they have an hour or so without devices before bedtime.

3.They also need to be organised so that the stress levels are less on the first day of school. Keeping their books, clothes, and bags ready would be helpful.

4. There should be a focus on health and cleanliness in the week before school reopens as this would help them sleep better.


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