Archive for the ‘parenting’ category

Start School Later meets with the Dept. of Health

July 17, 2012

Tomorrow, July 18, the leaders of the national Start School Later initiative will be meeting with directors at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health. There is a connection between early school start times and depression and suicidal thoughts that needs to be addressed.

The full press release is below, and I’ll post the update from the meeting in the next few days. If you’d like to weigh in with your support of later school start times you can sign the petition at http://www.startschoollater.net
RELEASE: July 16, 2012: GRASSROOTS GROUP ASKS FEDERAL AGENCY TO ADDRESS LINK BETWEEN EARLY HIGH SCHOOL START TIMES, MENTAL HEALTH, AND TEEN SUICIDES:

Contact: Heather Macintosh, 410-279-4569 heathermac@verizon.net
Dr. Terra Ziporyn Snider, Co-Director, 410-262-6616

Start School Later, a national coalition advocating for sane, humane high school start times, is meeting with Dr. Anne Mathews-Younes, Director of the Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress and Special Programs, and Dr. Richard McKeon, Director of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS), Wednesday, July 18, in Rockville, MD.

Compelling scientific research shows that adolescents’ sleep needs are being dangerously compromised by the extremely early school schedules of many US high schools. Waking at 5:30 to catch a bus and begin school in the 7 o’clock hour is incompatible with adolescent sleep needs and causing teens to miss out on the crucial sleep they need for physical and mental health and development and optimum academic achievement. Sleep deprivation is strongly linked to anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, among other health effects.

SAMHSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which, in turn, is increasingly recognizing the importance sleep plays in the health and wellness of young people.

“We’re looking forward to discussing ways federal agencies might be helpful in raising awareness and facilitating policies to ensure safe, healthy school hours for all children,” says Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, Start School Later’s Co-Director. “This has been impossible to achieve in many local school systems, where all too often politics and myth trump student health and well-being.”

Start School Later is an all-volunteer, national coalition working to ensure that all public schools can set hours compatible with health, safety, equity, and learning. Coalition members attending the SAMHSA meeting include Dr. Terra Ziporyn Snider and Kari Oakes, PA-C, both from Maryland, as well as Terry Cralle, RN, of Virginia, and Debbie Coleman, MBA, faculty member at the Miami University (Ohio).

Sleep Interruptions – Not so Trivial!

April 25, 2012

Many people talk to me about their difficulties sleeping, either difficulty falling asleep initially, or returning to sleep in the middle of the night, or in some cases waking up before they want to start the day.

One question that can be very helpful in this situation is “what woke you?” or “what prevented you from falling asleep?”  Surprisingly often, there is a clear environmental disturbance that is interrupting sleep.

Here are some of the external sleep interruptions I’ve heard of over the years:
- a snoring, or moving, bedpartner who may have a sleep disorder of their own
- bedpartner who gets into bed later, or who gets up earlier, thus waking up the person experiencing insomnia
- dog’s collar jingling
- cat asking for attention by scratching on the bedroom door
- outdoor lights that turn off and on with movement (hate those!)
- children in the bed, snuggled right up against the patient who then is uncomfortable
- an appliance or toy that beeps
- the cell phone, often a problem when it is used as an alarm clock
. . . and the list could easily go on.

When you are working to improve your sleep, you first want to eliminate as many of these interruptions as possible. I recently was working with a woman struggling to sleep well, waking 2-4 times each night. When asked “what wakes you in the night” she identified that sometimes her husband’s snoring woke her. We dialed down into that a little more, and she estimated that his loud snoring is responsible for half of her wakings, and realized looking back on it that when he’s away she does sleep better. Another person, a mother, said that she’s often squished between her children during sleep, and has no sleep problem if she has the bed to herself.

When you are working to improve your sleep, a helpful first step is to see if any external factor is interrupting or preventing you from sleep. Systematically resolve those interruptions, and then re-assess. You may find that those interruptions you were tolerating are not so trivial!

Mommy’s Sleep Holiday

February 1, 2012

Pretty regularly, women who are desperate for sleep come to me. These women say things like “I’m losing it,” “I’m going to go insane if I don’t get some sleep” or “I can’t take this anymore.”

Most of them are mothers whose sleep is being regularly disrupted by their children. You may think of mothers with infants or toddlers, but this isn’t always the case. Just last week it was a mom of 3 tweens who was being interrupted in the night, and felt completely frazzled because of it.

If this is describes you, or someone close to you – Take It Seriously! When people are so sleep deprived that they are “desperate for sleep” they need help, and soon. Professional sleep help may be needed, however, sometimes a few nights for a ‘Sleep Holiday’ can do wonders.

What do I mean by ‘Sleep Holiday?’ Arrange a few (2-3) nights when the mom can sleep completely uninterrupted. This can make a huge difference helping her feel more emotionally calm, rested, and better able to problem solve and stick to a plan to help her children sleep more independently. (Note – although it’s typically mothers who I see in this situation, it could easily be fathers, or anytone in the position of caregiving in the night).

For those 2-3 nights, arrange for the mother and children to sleep in different places – assign mom the guest room on another floor, better yet, have the children go to grandmas, or mom to go sleep at a hotel or a quiet friends house. The mother should go to bed at her earliest usual time, and sleep until she is done, without an alarm. Do all the things we’ve talked about to make the bedroom an ideal place to sleep, and turn off all phones and alarms.

For mothers who are breastfeeding, it may not be possible to have such long breaks from night-time caregiving, but is just as important. Figure out a strategy that will work for your family to get mom some long periods of uninterrupted sleep. Possibly mom can do the first feeding of the night, then dad can give a bottle later in the night. Even just using this strategy on weekends will result in a better rested mom.

Again, if you or your loved one is feeling ‘desperate for sleep’ take it seriously, and make a plan for them to have a ‘Sleep Holiday’ with less interruptions immediately, starting tonight.

Meet Us at the Bus Stop

January 24, 2012

So . . . how many of you are driving to work at 6:30ish? Ever see a kid suddenly caught in your headlights as they are waiting for the bus?

Over the last months the Start School Later movement has been gathering steam as almost 3,000 people across the nation have signed the petition, and the media has discussed the research showing that students do better when school starts later.

This week, on Thursday January 26th, the Meet us at the Bus Stop event is happening across the country to highlight how early children have to get up for school, so early that they are often waiting in the dark, on cold winter mornings, to catch the bus. Please join in by posting photos or video interviews of your children as they are waiting for the bus on Thursday morming. You can post them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/279393105455960/

See video from the previous Winter Solstice 2011 event at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl0zvs43wjQ&feature=youtu.be

Sign the Start School Later petition at http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139

Better School Start Times

December 31, 2011

Over the last several months national efforts to start school later have been growing, and it’s about time! For over 2 decades it’s been well established by medical research that there is a shift of the internal body clock during puberty. This causes teens to become sleepy later than younger children, and wake up later. This is a physiologic change, and not simply a preference for later socializing or “laziness” in the morning as was sometimes described.

Terra Snider, PhD, has created a national petition calling for legislation to prevent high schools from starting before 8am. When students go to school at times when they are most alert their performance improves, including improved test scores, decreased absenteeism, and increased graduation rates.

This issue is very close to my heart, and of utmost importance. Right out of college, in the early 1990′s, I worked in the research lab of Dr. Mary Carskadon, the leading researcher on children’s sleep/alertness patterns. After a couple years my impression was that a lot was known about this among researchers, but wasn’t being used to make children’s lives better. So although I’m interested in research, I decided to become a physician and help people with sleep problems. Now in my private practice it is striking how many adults say their sleep problems started as teens. For this reason I love to help children with sleep problems in hopes of improving their sleep before they’ve had problems for 20+ years.

Please sign this important petition, then ask your circle of friends to sign it too. http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139.   As of this writing there are 1466 signators across the nation, and growing each day.

There is a wonderful website by Dennis Nolan, JD, summarizing the impact of school start time on student’s well-being at http://schoolstarttime.org/.

If you are inspired to lend your talents to improving student’s lives in this way please let me know, or contact organizers directly.

Sleep Class for New Families

May 26, 2011

With a new child in the family, sleep becomes a major issue, both for babies and for parents! If you are one of the many parents who need more good information about sleep, this is the perfect class for you.

In this interactive class you will learn:
- about normal sleep and naps in infants and toddlers up to 3 years
- how sleep impacts babies’ development and growth
- the strategies to help your child learn to sleep on his / her own, from ‘cry it out’ to the ‘no cry sleep solution’ and everything in between
- how to set your lifestyle, and bedroom, for good sleep
- how parents can still get the sleep they need despite parenting in the night

Most importantly, each family will develop their own custom sleep plan over the course of the class, a plan they will benefit from immediately.

Here are the details:
Instructor: Dr. Catherine Darley, naturopathic sleep specialist
Two Dates: Friday June 17th or Saturday June 18th, 10a to 1p
Location: 1904 3rd Ave, Seattle WA, 98101, 2rd floor
(next to Bed, Bath & Beyond in downtown Seattle)
Cost: $65
Register: http://www.naturalsleepmedicine.net

Sleep Health in the News

March 30, 2011

It’s been fun the last week to talk with several folks in the media, both here in Seattle and on the web.  Here’s the links:

Interview about sleep & social skills with Linda Thomas of KIRO news
radio will air Weds, 5-8am, 97.3 fm
http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/news_chick_blog/20110328/Lack-of-sleep-impairs-teen-social-life/#comments

Interview on sleep needs & performance with Michael Harthorne of KOMO
community news
http://ballard.komonews.com/news/health/specialist-ballard-students-suffering-sleep-they-arent-getting/630340

Interview about insomnia with Myrna Sandbrand, RN on BlogTalkRadio

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ezsleep/2011/03/25/interview-with-dr-darley

I love to talk to people about sleep health, the may ways it impacts their well-being, and what to do to improve sleep.  If you’d like a speaker for your group let me know, drdarley@naturalsleepmedicine.net.

Teens Bedtimes Influence Depression

February 9, 2011

So, we’ve known for a long time that there’s a connection between sleep disturbance and mental health, particularly depression.

There’s been some research published this year looking at the connection between teens’ bedtime and mental health. Because depression may affect a student’s chosen bedtime, this study looked at parentally set bedtimes. Students’ were divided into two groups – bedtime 10pm or before, and bedtime midnight or later.

The teens with the later set bedtime of midnight or after were 24% more likely to be depressed and 20% more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The students with depression and suicidal thoughts had a sleep duration of 7 hr 23 mins compared to the other adolescents with an average of 7 hr 55 mins sleep nightly. Note for all groups this is at least an hour less than the recommended sleep for teens – 9 hours of more.

The authors conclude that an earlier parentally set bedtime may be protective against depression and suicidal thoughts in teens since it provides a longer sleep duration. Something to think about for all parents and people working with kids.

A Consistent Bedtime Routine Helps Baby Sleep

May 26, 2010

A consistent bedtime routine is a powerful tool to help infants consolidate their sleep into longer periods at night.  And when baby sleeps, parents can too!

Researchers had parents implement a 3-step bedtime routine.  The steps were a bath, a massage, and a quiet activity like cuddling or singing a lullaby, in that order.  Lights out was within 30 minutes of finishing the bath.  Nothing else was changed, the parents continued to put their child to bed they way they had been.

After just two weeks of this bedtime routine, the babies woke up fewer times in the night, and were awake for shorter periods.  Their mothers were less likely to perceive the babies sleep as a problem.  Not only that, but the mothers’ mood improved, so they were less tense, less depressed and less angry.

This gives hope to new parents, that they can help their child sleep better in just a few weeks, and that this improves the well-being of the family too!

Dr. Darley will be speaking on ‘Help your baby ‘Sleep Like a Baby’” on Tues, June 1st, in Mukilteo Wa.  This program is sponsored by Program for Early Parenting Support.

Teaching Babies to Sleep

May 24, 2010

There’s lots of discussion of what is the best way to help babies learn to sleep through the night. Use the ‘cry it out’ method, or use the ‘no cry’ method?

Sleep researchers have compared these methods, and here’s what they concluded:

1) The strongest support is for ‘Unmodified Extinction’ and ‘Preventive Parental Education.’
2) Research also supports the use of ‘Graduated Extinction,’ ‘Bedtime fading / positive routines,’ and ‘Scheduled awakenings’
3) Most children respond well to these behavioral techniques, and there is an improvement in the child’s daytime behavior, and parent’s wellbeing.

Here are those techniques briefly defined:
Unmodified Extinction: Parents put the child to bed at bedtime, and leave the child to sleep until the morning. Parents only monitor the child for safety and illness.
Preventive Parent Education: Parent ed aimed at preventing the development of sleep problems, and includes these behavioral interventions.
Graduated Extinction: Parents put child to bed at bedtime, and briefly check on the child on a pre-determined schedule.
Bedtime fading / positive routines: Parents establish an enjoyable bedtime routine, and put the child to bed when they usually fall asleep. Then the bedtime is gradually moved earlier once the child is able to fall asleep easily.
Scheduled awakenings: Parents first track when their child usually wakes up, then wake the child before that time, doing the same back to sleep routine as when the child wakes on his own.

Choose which method fits with your parenting values and your child, then stick with it and be consistent. In most studies only a few weeks were needed to help infants sleep through more of the night, and for parents to feel better.

Dr. Darley will be speaking on this topic for PEPS in Mukilteo, Wa. on June 1st. Please join us!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers