Mahaska Health Partnership Offers Tips To Improve Children’s Sleep

Mahaska Health Partnership

MAHASKA COUNTY – Does the idea of getting your children to bed exhaust you? Mahaska Health Partnership Pediatrician John O’Brien, MD, offers some advice on helping your child get their best night’s sleep every night.

When it comes to children, routine is vital. “Kids between the ages of five and 12 need nine to eleven hours of sleep each day,” Dr. O’Brien shared. “It’s important to make sure they get this sleep in order to be healthy and maximize their learning capabilities. They lead busy lives that require a lot of brain power, but being sleepy can hinder their ability to function.”

For children to fall asleep, they need to feel comfortable and relaxed. “Try to keep a set bedtime with the same activities each night to help your children know it’s time to wind down,” Dr. O’Brien suggested. “For instance, have them brush their teeth, get into pajamas, bathe and read a story all in the same order at the same time every day. By making them feel comfortable with a routine, it helps their active minds wind down faster and relax for bedtime.”

One key culprit to lack of sleep is screen time. “it can be hard to limit screen time due to the sheer amount of screens in our lives today,” Dr. O’Brien explained. “However, extended periods watching TV, being on a phone, tablet or computer, or playing video games can take its toll. End all screen time an hour before bed and limit electronics in the bedroom.

“Anything that puts off light, including screens, alarm clocks or even night lights can disrupt a child’s ability to get a good night’s rest,” Dr. O’Brien continued. “Sleeping in complete darkness is the healthiest way to get enough rest. If your child is afraid of the dark, put a night light in the hall. Use blackout curtains if the sunlight causes your child to wake up earlier than necessary.”

Believe it or not, what your child eats before bed can also affect their sleep. “For a nighttime snack, choose foods like toast with peanut butter or oatmeal and milk that combine protein and carbohydrates,” Dr. O’Brien said. “Yogurt, cheese, poultry, eggs, tuna and bananas also encourage sleep. Avoid sugary or caffeinated items that increase energy.”

When it comes to a good night’s rest, comfort is key. “Make sure the room isn’t too hot or too cold for your child and distractions are at a minimum,” Dr. O’Brien urged. “Kids thrive on schedules, so setting a bedtime routine will quickly provide benefits for both them and you. What better time than now to get them ready to go back to school too; start practicing their routine and they will be school-ready in no time.”

Pediatrician Dr. John O’Brien specializes in the care of children from birth to 21 years. Dr. O’Brien believes children are capable of doing wonderful things. He has enjoyed helping them achieve their potential in good physical and emotional health for more than 28 years. Dr. O’Brien has made great strides treating children with ADHD and prides himself on educating parents. To schedule an appointment with Dr. O’Brien, call 641.672.3360.

Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit




Posted by on Aug 19 2017. Filed under Lifestyle, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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