Pediatric sleep expert offers tips to help your child get some much-needed rest


If you’re struggling to get your kid into or out of bed at a decent hour now that school’s back in session, you’re not alone. Approximately 1 in 3 school-age children don’t get the nighttime rest they need, according to a recent CDC study.

“Elementary-school age kids need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, while tweens and teens should be sleeping for 8.5 to 9.5 hours every night,” says Jessica R. Litwin, MD, a pediatric neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Specialists.

A child who regularly doesn’t catch enough z’s can have problems focusing during classes. They’re also more prone to behavioral problems, mental health issues and health conditions like obesity and diabetes.

“One easy way to help your child be successful is by making sure they’re well rested,” says Dr. Litwin. She recommends parents take these steps:

  • Take note of how many hours of sleep your child gets during school breaks.
  • Gradually move up your child’s bedtime by 15 to 30 minutes every 5 to 7 days during the school year until they’re going to bed at an hour that gets them the equivalent of their summertime slumber.
  • Banish all screens from the bedroom one hour before bedtime.
  • Stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time even on the weekends. Sleeping in for more than 2 hours past the usual school wake-up times on the weekends can mess up a child’s internal clock, says Dr. Litwin.

For after-hours questions about your child’s health including sleep problems, call First Call® for Children at 303-563-3300 or 1-877-647-7440. Nurses are available to answer your questions from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. MST during weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and holidays. To find a pediatric specialist for your child’s specific health needs, call 888-817-9091.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children Congenital Heart Center taps expertise of world-renowned surgeon.

When Immanuel Turner, MD assumed the role of chief of pediatric and adult congenital cardiac surgery at The Congenital Heart Center at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMCH) earlier this year, he brought the expertise and surgical skills he’d hone while completing dual fellowship training at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.

“The University of Michigan Health System is known for having one of the country’s best congenital cardiac surgery programs,” says Dr. Turner. “And I had the privilege of learning how to perform complex surgeries directly from world-renowned pediatric heart surgeon  .”

Dr. Ohye serves as co-director of The Congenital Heart Center at the University Of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and is actively involved in national research and clinical trials. He’s also currently serving as a senior consultant at RMHC, working with Dr. Turner to assess complex cases and occasionally coming to Denver to assist on surgeries.

“Often, making the decision whether to operate is as important as the surgery itself,” says Dr. Turner. “We’re able to tap Dr. Ohye’s decades of experience to ensure the highest level of surgical care for pediatric patients in Denver.” To date, doctors Turner and Ohye have partnered to perform complex heart surgeries on four infants at RMHC — all with positive outcomes. “Infants and their families benefit from having two high-caliber heart surgeons involved in their care.”

Learn more about Rocky Mountain Pediatric Heart Surgery and The Congenital Heart Center at RMHC.

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