Health Watch -- After the Holidays

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

The holidays are over, so it's time to get back to your usual routines.

Going back to work or school after the holidays can be a letdown. One of the most difficult adjustments is getting up early in the morning. Children often have the most trouble adapting to changes in their routine. Chances are, you're still having trouble getting your kids out of bed to go to school after they got used to sleeping in during the winter break.

If you're trying to help them adjust by making them go to bed earlier, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you're making a common mistake. Sending children to bed earlier doesn't mean they'll actually get to sleep earlier. They may end up lying there, staring at the ceiling.

Instead, Dr. John Herman, a pediatric sleep expert at UT Southwestern, says just start getting your children up earlier in the morning. They may be sleepy during the day at first, but that will make it easier for them to get to sleep earlier at night.

You may have to stick to this routine for several days or even a full week before the new bedtime and wake-up times become routine, but it will eventually work.

In the future, it may help not to let routines change so drastically during holidays or vacations. Sleeping in every so often is a nice treat, but you'll help your sleep patterns by going to bed and getting up at about the same time most days.