How do you get kids who've stayed up late all summer back into an early to bed, early to rise school routine? Go cold turkey and let them stay up late and be sleepy at school? Our Baylor expert says no.
"The best thing to do is to start about seven to 10 days before people need to be in their school routine and work them into it," Baylor psychologist Dr. Jim Bray said.
And if they complain they're not sleepy, disconnect them from their electronics.
"A lot of kids like to play on the computer, do Facebook, watch TV, listen to loud music and that wakes the brain up," Dr. Bray said.
They can read a dull book and drink four ounces of warm milk; it releases triptofans, which cause drowsiness. Then make them take a hot shower, so when their bodies cool, they get drowsy.
It's important because kids who don't get enough sleep are more likely to overeat, be irritable and have a hard time with stress. Another back to school routine that should be reinstated is breakfast.
"Courses like math and physics for the high school kids, that higher reasoning, your brain can't run on empty," dietitian Roberta Anding said.
Anding, the dietitian who feeds the Texans, knows her brain foods and here are her top four for kids:
- Choline from eggs, which helps with brain development.
- Omega 3's from cold water fish, nuts, or eggs and milk enriched with it
- Berries, which are brain friendly
- Carbohydrates from cereals
"Carbohydrates is the gas in your brain's tank; your brain can't use another fuel," Anding said.
If time is a problem, here's an idea:
"You don't make it a hot meal, you make it a grab-and-go option so if they're going on the bus or you're giving them a ride to school, they've got breakfast with them," Anding said.
Also, if your children are irritable at the beginning of school, it could be because they're sleep deprived or dehydrated, so make sure you add "fluids" to your "back to school" checklist.