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In the News | Overview

'Sleeping Beauty' syndrome causes teen boy to sleep 20 hours per day

Fox News Health tells the story of Boston Children’s patient, Michael Hamper, who was diagnosed with Kleine-Levin syndrome - sometimes referred to as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.

The Science of Adolescent Sleep

The New York Times explores the reasoning behind teen’s need for extra sleep which experts say is biology. Adolescents’ bodies want to stay up late and sleep late, putting them out of sync with what their school schedules demand of them. So kids have trouble waking up, and they often find themselves feeling drowsy in morning algebra class. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, organized a recent sleep conference at which the article’s author was a keynote speaker.

To improve chronic pain, get more sleep (coffee helps too)

Medicalxpress reports new research from Boston Children's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) shows that chronic sleep loss increases pain sensitivity. It suggests that chronic pain sufferers can get relief by getting more sleep, or, short of that, taking medications to promote wakefulness such as caffeine. Both approaches performed better than standard analgesics in a rigorous study in mice. Boston Children’s Alban Latremoliere, PhD, Kiran Maski, MD, MPH, and Clifford Woolf, MB, Bch, PhD, director of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children's all contribute to this report.

Sleep doctors call for later school start times

Reuters reports that starting classes at middle school and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. would help teens arrive alert, healthy and ready to learn, U.S. sleep medicine specialists say. Studies show that short sleep in adolescents is associated with poor school performance, obesity, metabolic dysfunction and heart disease, increased depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, risk-taking behaviors and athletic injuries. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, is quoted in the article.

Doctor concerned Melatonin isn't right for most kids

WCVB Channel 5 News reports that Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, discusses the use of melatonin in children and the concerns the pill brings. The lack of studies on the long term effects of childhood melatonin use, the lack of FDA oversight, and the harmful side effects melatonin has make long term use of melatonin dangerous for children, according to Judith Owens. Owens advises families to consult with their pediatricians see sleep experts before turning to melatonin.

This ubiquitous sleep aid may not be as safe as we thought

The New York Post reports that if your child struggles with sleep, melatonin may not be the answer. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, helps explain the best way to help your kids get a good night’s sleep, without the use of sleep aids.

Sleep apnea in children tied to changes in brain

Reuters reports that in children with a common condition that causes them to periodically stop breathing during sleep, areas of the brain involved with thinking and problem-solving appear to be smaller than in children who sleep normally, a new study finds. Researchers can't say the brain changes actually cause problems for children at home or school, but they do say the condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), has been tied to behavior and cognitive problems. Boston Children’s Eliot Katz, MD, provides insight on the study findings.

Poor Sleep in Preschool Years Could Mean Behavior Troubles Later

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, is interviewed by HealthDay News regarding a new study that found preschoolers who get too little sleep may be more likely to have trouble paying attention, controlling their emotions and processing information later in childhood.

Step inside a wired nursery: Lots of tech — and not much evidence it’s helpful

STAT takes a look at the high-tech gear that’s hitting the nursery market, where every wiggle, snore, and diaper change is tracked and the data is synced to your smartphone. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, warns parents, if a baby’s healthy, these devices can backfire as parents poring over the data may seek unnecessary medical attention.

You Asked: What’s the best sleeping pill?

TIME reports that depending on your symptoms, experts say any pill is a short-term fix for those with sleep issues, and not a solution. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, warns parents they shouldn’t consider giving their kids any sleep aid unless they’ve been to a specialist or clinic and are using the pill under professional supervision.

Is the Sleep Aid Melatonin Safe for Children and Adults?

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, tells The New York Times “Well” blog that parents really need to understand that there are potential risks when it comes to giving the sleep aid melatonin to children.

Study says teens should start school later reports on a recent Boston Children’s Hospital’s sleep study published in Pediatrics. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, explains that when you're not getting enough or the right kind of sleep, the consequences can be really serious. Sleep deprivation is linked with higher likelihood for depression, more car crashes and plummeting grades.

“Night Owls” May Face Special Challenges

The New York Times reports that parents often worry about whether their children are getting enough sleep and a new study underscores just how important being “in sync” can be. It identifies two factors that put teenagers at risk for academic, emotional and behavioral problems, regardless of how many hours of sleep a child is actually getting at night: greater daytime sleepiness, and the tendency to be a “night owl.” Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, and lead author on the study provides her insight on the topic.

Teen night owls struggle to learn and control emotions at school

NPR reports on a new study in Pediatrics that surveyed 2.017 students in Fairfax, VA on a variety of factors related to sleep. The researchers wanted to know more about the associations between the amount of sleep students get, how sleepy they are in the daytime and a brain function known as self-regulation — the ability to control emotions, cognitive functions and behavior. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, who led the study, is interviewed for the article. U.S. News & World Report and Medical Xpress also reports on the study.

Boston City Council takes up debate over starting high schools later

Fox 25 reports that the Boston City Council is debating the merits of later start times for high school students. Doctors recommended starting high school later to allow adolescents to get more than nine hours of sleep per night. While some city councilors are on board with doctors, critics say changing the start time would negatively impact transportation, sports practices and after-school jobs. Some other school districts have already made the change, but the debate is just getting started in Boston. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, weighs in on the importance of later school start times.

How to get through cold and flu season without getting sick

Parents magazine provides a five-step plan for families to help them slide through the cold and flu season without a sore throat or sniffle. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, speaks to the importance of maintaining a consistent bedtime to keep the immune system healthy and ward off illness.

Stop Sabotaging Your Kid’s Sleep

Parents magazine reports that if your nights are an endless cycle of wake-ups, you’re doing something wrong. The article offers tips and tricks for parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children to make sure they get the best night’s sleep possible. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, contributes her expertise to the story.

Will Boston Public Schools adopt later high school start times? reports City Councilors will hold a hearing on later high school start times in the coming weeks. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, director of sleep medicine, who was involved in the American Academy of Pediatrics decision to recommend a high school start time of 8:30 am, was quoted in the article.

Young and restless: children who suffer from sleeping disorders

WHDH-TV channel 7reports more than a million children in the United States are dealing with sleep apnea, however many of these kids are being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, explains children with sleep apnea for the most part aren’t sleepy, instead, the symptoms for kids may present to doctors and educators like classic ADHD.

Can't Sleep? New Study Says Try Therapy, Not Pills

NBC News reports according to new guidelines by The American College of Physicians, people with insomnia should try counseling before they turn to pills, which often carry dangerous side-effects. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, was interviewed by NBC News about the new sleep guidelines.

Can You Sleep Train Your Baby at 2 Months?

Tribeca Pediatrics is among the most ardent proponents of the sleep-training practice, also known as extinction, in which parents don’t intervene when a baby cries after bedtime. Some sleep experts say the method has gained broader acceptance among parents while others disagree with the method. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, comments on the sleep-training practice debate in The Wall Street Journal.

Greenwich schools hear from teen sleep expert on start times

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens MD, MPH, and lead author of an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement recommending that high school and middle school students not start classes before 8:30 AM, told The Greenwich Times her opinion on start times has not changed in the past two years. She said teens are struggling physically and psychologically from a chronic lack of sleep, in large part because they cannot adjust to their schools’ early schedules. They are not adapting because their circadian rhythms naturally shift later during their teenage years.

Ask Well: The Best Way to Put Babies to Sleep

The New York Times “Well” blog shares a question from a reader asking if it is worse to train babies to be soothed by co-sleeping or with a bottle and a song? Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, MPH, weighs in on the best methods to use to encourage consistent sleep habits in babies.

Should Massachusetts high schools begin classes later in the morning?

The state Legislature is considering a bill to study the issue of pushing high school start times later statewide. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, is in favor of the later start times, telling The Boston Globe, it’s not healthy if you are asking teenagers to get up at 5:30 or 6am, that is their lowest point of alertness in their 24-hour cycle.

Aiming to get teens more sleep, high schools consider later start times

The Barrington Courier Review (Chicago) reports that Barrington School District 220 is considering a proposal to push back the start of the school day, in one scenario by more than two hours. Many other factors affect how much sleep kids get, such as after-school activities, jobs and staying up late with friends or playing videos, which parents can rein in. But according to Boston Children’s Judy Owens, MD, MPH, class starting time is the single change that affects all students.

High schools listening to scientists, letting teens sleep

The Associated Press reports proponents of later school start times got a boost last year when the American Academy of Pediatrics said that while starting later isn't a solution for teen health and academic problems, it can improve students' lives in many other ways. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owen, MD, author of the academy's policy statement on teen sleep, is quoted in the article.

The last bedtime story you’ll ever need

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, points to three reasons why the self-published picture book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, has had such success in making the bedtime ritual easier on both parent in a recent SLATE blog.

Stevenson High classes to begin 25 minutes later so students can sleep more

Chicago Daily Herald reports in a move designed to improve students' sleep habits, classes at Lincolnshire's Stevenson High School will begin 25 minutes later starting next year. The change comes as pediatric health experts and activists nationwide are campaigning for later school-day starts. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, director of sleep medicine, and co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ position statement on school start times was quoted in the article.

More parents are giving kids melatonin to sleep. Is it safe?

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, is interviewed by U.S. News & World Report regarding the increasing number of parents giving melatonin to children to help them fall asleep, despite continued concerns in the U.S. and abroad about the potential impact of the supplement on children's health, particularly long term.

School Start Times & the Science of Adolescent Sleep

New Hampshire Public Radio examines the debate over school start times and the science of adolescent sleep needs. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, provided her expertise on the topic.

Wayland forum planned about teens and sleep patterns

The Boston Globe reports that Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, will be speaking about teens and the importance of getting enough sleep during “The ABCs of ZZZs: What Every Parent Needs to Know About the Importance of Sleep in Kids and Teens” at The Walden Forum.

‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep’: Why This Bedtime Book Makes Children Konk Out

The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, is a self-published children’s book that practically guarantees to coax even the most bedtime-resistant child into dreamland by the time you turn the final page. Yahoo! Health dove into the science behind the book with Boston Children’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, sleep laboratory director.

Bedtime story uses psychological tricks to get kids to sleep faster

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, offered his critique of a new self,-published children's bedtime story currently topping Amazon's Best Sellers List. "The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep," employs psychological and positive reinforcement techniques that promise to make the process easier and help kids to drift off to sleep faster. Dr. Khatwa likened the book to "gentle hypnosis" in a CBS News report.

CDC Says Give Them a Rest: Kids Start Their School Day Too Early

NBC Nightly News reports on a new study from the CDC and Department of Education confirming that middle and high schools start their days too early, potentially affecting kids' academic success and their health. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, provides her expertise and is also featured in an article from USA Today on the same topic.

More kids are drinking coffee. Is caffeine safe for them?

The Washington Post reports that more kid are drinking coffee in addition to other beverages that contain caffeine. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, explains that caffeine does reduce sleepiness and this might be handy for a high school student tackling a mountain of homework, but later there’s a big downside. You’ll have more trouble falling asleep and more sleep disruptions through the night. For a sleep-deprived nation of teenagers, this is not good news.

Sleep Matters: Are kids getting the zzzzzz’s they need?

USA Today reports that kids all over the country are going to bed too late. Parents estimate that, on school nights, children ages 6 to 10 sleep 8.9 hours, well short of the recommended 10 to 11 hours, according to results of a National Sleep Foundation 2014 Sleep in America Poll. Boston Children’s Judith Owens, MD, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, was a contributor to the article.

The Walking Dead

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Judith Owens, MD, has been studying the effects of school start times on the well-being of school-age kids—and her conclusions are not encouraging reports The New Yorker magazine.

Sleep Training: What is the perfect age?

Sleep training is a hot-button issue with many schools of thought, Judith Owens, MD, director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, shares her expert advice with Yahoo

Nap time isn't one-size-fits-all

Reuters Health reports that a team of Australian researchers reviewed 26 previously published studies on how naps impact sleep at night, as well as learning and behavior during the day. It may come as no surprise to parents that researchers found little consensus beyond the fact that after age two, kids who nap may not sleep as much at night. Boston Children's Judith Owens, MD, provides her insight.

6 Ways Your Bedroom May Be Sabotaging Your Sleep

Boston Children’s Dennis Rosen, MD, writes an article for Psychology Today about how to make a bedroom most conducive for sleep.

New book helps parents tackle their kids’ sleep problems

Twenty to thirty percent of children of all ages suffer from some form of sleep disturbance. In Successful Sleep Strategies for Kids, pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist Dennis Rosen, MD, discusses the latest discoveries science has made in the field of sleep.

Infants, schedules and that so-called slippery road’s “Child Caring” blog answers a reader’s question about getting her baby on a consistent sleep and napping schedule. Boston Children’s Dennis Rosen, MD, provides insight.

Extra sleep may improve kids' conduct

Reuters reports that letting kids sleep a little longer may help improve their behavior and make them less restless in school, according to a new study. Boston Children’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, notes that it was surprising how a little sleep extension could affect functioning on a day-to-day basis.

No, you won’t cause your child irreparable harm by teaching him better sleep habits

Huffington Post reports on better sleeping habits for children. Boston Children’s Dennis Rosen, MD, shares insight on the topic.

Overcoming sleep disorders in children

The Boston Globe cover story in the “G” section features sleep apnea, a condition treated more frequently at Boston Children's and other pediatric sleep centers because of increased screening by pediatricians, who ask about snoring and obesity at well visits. Boston Children’s Umakanth Khatwa, MD, and Eliot Katz, MD, explain sleep apnea in kids.

How much sleep do kids really need?

The Boston Globe (subscription required) reports that while a small percentage of children have disrupted sleep due to sleep apnea, a far greater percentage are exhausted, irritable and distracted throughout the day due to poor sleep hygiene. Boston Children’s, Dennis Rosen, MD, blames the digital age of midnight texts, e-mails and sports alerts.