BRAINTREE, MA (March 5, 2019): The 30 women came to the Pastoral Center in Braintree last Wednesday night from across the Archdiocese of Boston. They have children and grandchildren to care for, aging parents and other responsibilities - but they set those concerns aside for three hours to deepen their understanding of pediatric and adolescent health, in order to better serve their Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. The Catholic school nurses listened attentively as Maile Moore, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, from the Sleep Center at Boston Children’s Hospital taught about the importance of sleep, particularly in pediatrics. She spoke about sleep disorders and other contributing factors that impact children’s overall health.
She also gave nurses guidance on how to compile a comprehensive sleep history in the school health office. In particular, the nurse should ask a family about an evening routine, including screen time; the sleep schedule; other daytime sleep, such as short naps; and the weekend schedule.
In addition, the nurses discussed a fictional case study of a 16-year-old boy with sleep complications and performed a deep dive into the adolescent sleep cycle. Moore said, “All adolescents experience a normal shift in circadian rhythms with age and in association with the onset of puberty.” Due to school start times, this often leads to a sleep deficiency during the weekdays and an attempt to catch on the weekends. In short, “teenagers are living in one time zone during the week, and an entirely different time zone on the weekend. It’s as though they are in a permanent state of social jet lag,” said Moore.
Moore also covered screen time and its effect on sleep. She pointed out that “use of screen media by youth is associated with shorter total sleep time, delayed sleep onset, shorter sleep duration, later bedtime and poorer sleep quality.”
Another adolescent sleep disrupter is caffeine. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, referenced by Moore, found that “caffeine was significantly associated with internalizing behavior; over-control of emotions, social withdrawal, demand for attention, and feelings of worthlessness or inferiority.” Additionally, “caffeine consumption was significantly related to sleep routine, morning tiredness, and restless sleep in children, with increasing caffeine consumption correlated with increasing sleep problems.”
Karen O’Neil is a school nurse who is in her first school year at St. Pius V School in Lynn, and this was the first event that she has attended with the Catholic Schools Office. She said, “The presentation was phenomenal. Pediatric sleep is such an important topic, especially in today's ‘screen age.’”
Bridget Jaklitsch, RN, is the nurse at St. Francis Xavier School in Weymouth and stated, “This workshop increased my awareness around the importance and impact of sleep. I brought the information back to Saint Francis Xavier School and asked the teachers to talk to their students in their classrooms about the importance of sleep; how it’s associated with wellness and increased success in school.”
Jaklitsch continued, “Thanks to these professional development events funded by the Catholic Schools Office, nurses are able to support each other intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.”