PUBLISHED: 10:26 AM on Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Five quick sleep tips
Timothy Hoban, M.D., a sleep specialist, offers five tips for healthy sleep habits.

• Be a role model: By establishing their own regular sleep schedules, parents set a good example for kids.

• Keep a regular wake-up time and bedtime: For kids who have sleep problems or a habit of oversleeping, consistent wake-up and sleep times can make a difference.

• Establish a bedtime routine: Plan on 15-30 minutes of quiet activities before bedtime, such as reading. Turn off the television, computers and video games during this time.

• Create a balanced schedule: Plan ahead to keep activities from interfering with sleep schedules. Overbooked students can feel stressed, which in turn can degrade the quality and amount of sleep -- and lead to other health problems.

• Don't use the weekends to catch up on sleep: Teens suffer the most from going to bed late or sleeping in on the weekends.

"Children who are weekend night owls or sleep in on the weekends will often have a very different sleep pattern than they do on weekdays, increasing the likelihood for insomnia during the week and making it more difficult for them for them to fall asleep at an appropriate time on school nights," Hoban said.

Still having trouble? Hoban cautions against using sleep aids on kids.

"As a general strategy, I recommend that families try to explore non-medication treatments as first steps since there is very little research on the safety and effectiveness of these medications," he said.

"Instead, start with giving your kids a regular sleep schedule that provides the opportunity to have a sufficient amount of time to sleep."