Kids having trouble sleeping? This could be why

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If your child or teen is struggling to wake up or go to bed at a decent time, it's likely the many changes brought on by the pandemic and virtual learning aren't doing much to help.

Dr. Puneet Patni is a sleep expert at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and says additional screen time on laptops and cellphones mixed with a lack of routine could be affecting your child's sleep.

He recommends elementary school students get anywhere between 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night and high schoolers between 8.5 to 9 hours.

"When (kids) don't have friends around to play with, they're probably less motivated to go outside when it's just them," Patni said. "The lack of physical routine and activity, which I imagine has gone down, will have an impact on kids' sleep."

Structure and routine are key in helping to regulate sleep as well as a healthy diet, according to Patni.

"If they know that, 'Every night I brush my teeth and have a bath, and then I read my story, and then I sleep,' that encourages them to sleep at a normal time," he said.

In addition, try to limit screen time not associated with virtual learning, like TV or video games, to the weekend. The blue light emitted by those electronics can affect sleep by "waking up" the brain, which is problematic right before bedtime.

Lastly, if your child or teen wants to virtually learn while in bed, Patni says this is not a good idea because the bed should be for sleeping only.

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