Capital Region | Capital Health | Summer 2020 7 The end of summer is back-to-school season, and while many may be sorry to see an end to vacations and a return to the grind of work or school, those struggling with their behavioral health have more to dread than early morning alarms and deadlines. Shifts in routine can disrupt carefully planned coping strategies, and the prospect of new challenges and experiences can bring on feelings of stress and anxiety. One important thing that can help alleviate all of these is sleep. The benefits of a consistent sleep schedule are extensive and impact both our physical and behavioral health. Although trouble sleeping is often a symptom of many behavioral health disorders, a lack of sleep can also increase your risk of developing such a disorder. The reverse is true, too—sleeping well and for the recommended amount of time (at least seven hours for most adults) can help protect you against some behavioral health disorders. So, as we begin to move out of summer, be sure to prioritize sleep for your general well-being. Children can get by without some things—but not a good night’s sleep. Kids who regularly come up short on shut-eye can wind up with some pretty troubling behavioral and health problems, from high blood pressure and headaches to trouble focusing and depression. They’re also at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. To help your child get enough ZZZs and develop good sleep habits: Make enough sleep a family priority. Don’t let busy schedules—including yours—crowd out sleep. If you’re a role model for sufficient slumber, your child is likely to follow your lead. How to keep kids from skimping on sleep Set the stage. See that your child’s bedroom is quiet, dark and at a comfortable, sleep- inducing temperature. Stick to a schedule. Try to keep bed and wake-up times consistent, even on weekends. Focus on mental health as we roll into fall Check in on yourself. Regardless of what the fall season brings for you—new schedules, homework, family changes—take care of your mental health. Get started with your free, anonymous mental health screening today: . Smooth bedtime with a ritual. Tuck in young children with a hug and a favorite story. Encourage older ones to unwind with the same soothing activity every night too—maybe a warm soak in the bath. Keep electronics out of the bedroom, especially at night. Have a digital curfew too—say no to screen time at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from computers, tablets and smartphones can delay the body’s internal clock and make it hard to nod off. Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Sleep Foundation