PTF Parent Up Speaker ‘The Sleep Doctor’ Discusses Healthy Sleep Habits With Parents and Students

The 2018-2019 PTF Parent Up Speaker Series focused on health and wellness continued last week, as “The Sleep Doctor” Michael Breus came and talked with students and parents at Hurlbut Theater.

Dr. Breus is a double board-certified clinical psychologist and clinical sleep specialist, one of only 168 psychologists in the world with his credentials. He shared his knowledge on sleep, and during the parent presentation specified his insight to different stages of life—preschoolers ages 3-6, middle childhood ages 6-12, adolescents over the age of 12, and adults. Dr. Breus also presented to St. Margaret’s faculty and staff, as well as a teenage-specific presentation to Upper School students.

His presentations were a practical look at how to approach sleep—both for children and adults. He went in-depth on sleep education for young children, sleep disorders such as night terrors, sleep walking, sleep apnea, and ways that sleep disorders can negatively impact the waking hours for children—and sometimes even be misdiagnosed as attention-deficit disorders.

Dr. Breus also talked about the teenage sleep cycles and how it varies, often drastically, from every other stage of life. He noted that teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep, but due to demanding schedules and early school start times, rarely reach that total. Such research was a factor in St. Margaret’s implementing a redesigned school schedule this year, which notably included pushing the school start time back 30 minutes.

Dr. Breus offered advice for parents of teenagers, such as letting them sleep in on weekends to replenish shortfalls during the busy week, and to take advantage of windows, even if it’s just 20 minutes, to take a nap after school.

He also shared sleep advice for adults, giving well-tested secrets to making sure adults get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep. He had daytime advice such as getting 15 minutes of sunlight every morning, waiting until 90 minutes after waking up to drink coffee, and consistently exercising. He also offered nighttime tips, from cutting off digital handheld devices an hour before bed, limiting exercise just before bed and staying cool at night.

Afterward, Dr. Breus signed copies of his book The Power of When and answered questions from members of the St. Margaret’s community.

You can view the slides from Dr. Breus’ presentation to St. Margaret’s parents, as well as resources provided by Dr. Breus on a number of sleep-related topics, by visiting the Parent Up Speaker tile in the Parents Portal.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California