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A Healthy School Year
Did you know that more than 51 million hours of schooling are lost annually due to lack of dental care among American children?
RMHC provides part of the solution to this epidemic through its fleet of Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, providing cost effective, quality medical and dental care to children in vulnerable communities.
One of the key tenets of the program is prevention: to screen and treat children before something becomes chronic. And the doctors aboard the 48 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles are some of the biggest ambassadors for prevention.
In fact, Dr. Melissa Hamp, a physician aboard the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Chattanooga provided us with some back to school prevention tips that you can put to use in your household. We’ll let her take it away from here.
A good night’s sleep is the foundation of a successful school day for your student.
The return to school in the fall means the end to long, lazy summer evenings-- and to sleeping in the next morning. Often adjusting your child’s sleep routine to the new school-time hours takes a while, and going to bed “earlier” may be resisted by your energetic student. It’s recommended that elementary-age kids get between 9-11 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and daytime performance. Teens need at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Many kids get less sleep than this because of busy lifestyles, excessive media and electronic exposure, and occasionally, sleep disorders.
Children involved in after-school activities often end up doing homework and school projects in the evening. Occasional late nights do no harm, but a pattern of staying up past bedtime to complete schoolwork may mean it’s time to re-look at the after-school schedule. Your plugged-in teen may be talking to or texting friends long after bedtime, or awakening to calls/texts that come after falling asleep. Allergies and sleep apnea can contribute to night wakening and resulting daytime sleepiness. Finally, some medications taken during the day can interfere with your child’s sleep.
How can you ensure that your student gets enough sleep? Limit her consumption of caffeinated beverages, particularly after mid-day; turn the TV off several hours before bedtime, (exposure to violent and/or exciting programming contributes to disturbed sleep); establish a regular bedtime routine to “wind-down” your child before bedtime; keep TVs and computers/tablets out of your child’s bedroom; and restrict access to cell-phones and social media after sleep time, (turn phone off or charge the phone overnight outside of the bedroom).
See your child’s doctor if you note snoring or long pauses in breathing during sleep, to see if allergies or sleep apnea are a problem.