Sweet Dreamzzz offers sleeping tips for students for school year

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published September 5, 2017

 Members of the UPS Livonia Neighbor to Neighbor program fold T-shirts for the sleep kits.

Members of the UPS Livonia Neighbor to Neighbor program fold T-shirts for the sleep kits.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

FARMINGTON/LIVONIA — You’ve already bought their character backpacks, sneakers and classroom tissues, but you might be forgetting one thing: dusting off your child’s alarm clock and getting them back to a proper sleep schedule. 

Summer will technically be over in about two weeks, and representatives of the local nonprofit Sweet Dreamzzz want you and your child to have the best sleep yet, especially when school is back in session.

Ann Raftery, Sweet Dreamzzz director of sleep programs, trains educators to present the Early Childhood Sleep Education Program and the Parent Sleep Education Workshop. She is all about helping children learn and practice the steps of a healthy bedtime routine, and helping parents catch a few zzz’s in the process.

“It’s amazing how sleep is just taken for granted and neglected,” Raftery said, adding that the statement is especially true for the community they serve — low-income residents — but sleep is free. “Everyone can obtain it. We’re talking about something that is neglected ... something we can really talk to parents about and impact with their child and themselves.” 

She said it’s up to parents to encourage their children to get into a back-to-school routine by discouraging sleeping in and staying up late. 

Raftery said that in addition to adjusting sleep routines, it is appropriate to turn off the electronics way before bedtime, and in their place pick up a book, take a bath or do another calming activity.

“Because the light is telling our bodies to stay awake, and (it is) not allowing our bodies to produce melatonin,” she said. 

Sweet Dreamzzz representatives say it can be hard for students to wake up for the first morning of school because of an inconsistent bedtime routine and a lack of proper sleep, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Livonia nonprofit, which serves the greater Farmington area, believes in teaching children, parents and educators the importance of a good night’s sleep for academic success and increased health and well-being, according to a press release.

A good night’s sleep goes a long way to help students stay focused in the classroom and retain information. The brain stores what is learned during the day into permanent regions during sleep, according to the press release. Sleep deprivation can cause or worsen attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms.

Sweet Dreamzzz Executive Director Nancy Maxwell said that understanding how many hours of sleep a child needs is important, as is creating an environment that is sleep-friendly, even when it is light outside.

“Re-create an environment that is darker in their rooms; bring them in from outside earlier ... in the summer,” Maxwell said. “Making obvious adjustments will be helpful for (the) transition back to school,” she said. 

Good sleep habits for preschoolers include getting about 13 hours of sleep a night. Raftery said that kindergartners need about that much time to sleep too, while elementary school and middle school students require about 10-12 hours of sleep. High schoolers/teenagers should be sleeping for about 8 1/2 hours to 9 1/2  hours each night.

“Parents are surprised, often, to hear how many hours of sleep are required for different age groups,” Raftery said. 

Sweet Dreamzzz trains teachers, students and parents through sleep education worships. Parents learn how many hours of sleep their children need and why, and what behaviors to look out for in sleep-deprived children.

Kathi Luthe, from West Bloomfield Preschool Academy, received training from Sweet Dreamzzz Aug. 22.

She said that the training really benefited faculty for students in the 4-year-old age range.

“It was informational,” she said, adding that she has a 4-year-old son and will apply what she learned to his sleep routine.

Upcoming programs in September and October include a variety of sleep education workshops and programs at elementary schools and a pregnancy center in metro Detroit.

To bring a Sweet Dreamzzz seminar and/or workshop to a school, call (248) 478-3242 or go to info@sweetdreamzzz.org

Sweet Dreamzzzz, which was originally based in Farmington, is located at 19171 Merriman Road in Livonia.

For more information, go to www.SweetDreamzzz.org.