Posts Tagged ‘Sleeping’

Spring forward without falling backward!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
sleeping child

courtesy of pixabay

We’ve taken a vote and decided that the Monday after the Daylight Saving Time change should be a national holiday. Just kidding!

It would be nice to have that extra day to adjust to the new time, especially for families with children with ADHD, Autism, other processing, and behavioral issues. That one hour change can often throw off our kids’ systems for weeks and even cause a set back to steady progress. Changes in sleep patterns and routines affect everyone, with or without learning issues.  However, there are some ways to help kids stay on track even when their bodies are telling them otherwise.

1. Stick to routines

Children with ADHD, Autism, and other learning differences are already struggling to understand the world around them.  Adding an extra hour to the day can be difficult to process.  We can help keep anxiety low by keeping to our regular routines and schedules.  The less out of control your child feels, the easier the adjustment period will be for everyone.

2. Try shifting your child’s schedule by 10-15 minutes each day

Often letting a child know exactly what is about to happen is the best way to prepare for a new situation.  Forwarding the day by a whole hour fits into the “new situations” category.  About ten days before Daylight Saving Time Sunday sit down with your child and let them know that soon everyone will be forwarding their clocks forward and that as a family you will all be preparing for the time change.  Children with ADHD and Autism are often visual learners. You can even make a chart or mark your calendar with the new wake-up and bedtimes to clearly show them how the time will change.

3. Light blocking shades

Too much light at bedtime can be a problem for kids with learning disabilities.  Their internal clocks often use environmental cues such as sunlight or darkness to help them wake and sleep.  Try using sun-blocking shades to keep out the light in the evening to help children fall asleep and to prevent them from waking up too early.

4. Extra exercise

Encourage your child to play outside or take them to the playground.  Physical activity can improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration.   Also, studies have shown that exercise reduces stress by increasing the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.   The combined benefits of releasing pent up energy, and reducing stress can have a positive impact on helping your child adjust to time change.

5. Avoid extra stimulation in the evening, especially around bedtime.

Help your child’s bedtime routine by avoiding rowdy games, electronic devices and any other activities that may energize your child and prevent them from falling asleep.  Instead, encourage quiet games, reading, coloring, and other calming activities.  Screens should be avoided.  Artificial light from tablets and smart phones has been shown to interfere with the body’s natural sleep patterns and can slow down the production of melatonin, a chemical the body naturally produces to regulate sleep.  Individuals with low melatonin levels will have difficulty sleeping at appropriate bedtimes.

6.  Brainjogging

Brainjogging can help your child adjust to Daylight Saving Time too!  Make a wordlist using relevant words and short phrases to help your child understand what Daylight Saving is and how it will affect his day.  You can add some of the ways that you plan on helping him adjust.  Look out for our word list about Daylight Savings under “My Assigned Lists”.

Overall, it is important to be aware that the Daylight Saving Time change may affect your child’s sleep patterns and behavior.  Be prepared, have a plan, and be patient!


Managing ADHD Symptoms

Friday, February 3rd, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

Parents are often uncomfortable with the idea of giving medicine to treat their child’s ADHD.  However, simple changes in diet and routine can often make the biggest impact!  Try some of these helpful tips.


  • Avoid  artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.  Many artificial colors and preservatives such as sodium benzoate and calcium proprionate  enhance hyperactivity in children.
  • Concentrate on high-protein, complex carbohydrate, unprocessed foods.  Avoid prepared foods that contain five or more ingredients.  Whole, unprocessed foods will provide the right kind of energy to maintain healthy energy levels and focus throughout the day.   Simple carbs like foods with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, candy, white flour or honey should be minimized.  These foods are likely to cause outbursts and mood swings.
  • Healthy fats– healthy fasts such as omega-3 are considered to be excellent brain food. These are found in olive oils, cold water fish like salmon and tuna, as well as in walnuts and Brazil nuts.


Most children need a consistent bed time to avoid being cranky and lethargic.  The importance of a regular bedtime routine is greater  for children with ADHD.  During sleeping hours, a child’s brain is strengthening neural connections and repairing daily damage.  Children who do not get enough sleep often seem disorganized and less attentive.  No amount of vitamins, tutoring, or exercise will help her development if she is not getting the correct hours of sleep for her age.  Try these tips to help make bedtime more effective for your children.

  • Avoid screens, even TV at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid sugar snacks before bed. 
  • Dim lights and offer quiet activities such as coloring or reading.  Even just snuggling with a parent can be enough to calm a child after a long day of school and extracurricular activities.
  • Keep a set bed time routine that starts at the same time each day.  For example, your child should know that at 6:30pm each day, she will be expected to start getting ready for her bedtime at 8:00pm.
  • No matter how your day went, maintain peace and calm for your child.  The most important activity she will do each day is get the right amount of sleep.  Children can sense stress in their parents.  Take a minute to have a snack or do some stretches so that you can be the best version of yourself for your child.

Manage and Model Behavior

Children with ADHD have a hard time organizing their thoughts.  To minimize disruptive behavior, parents should be very clear with their expectations.

  • Be sure your child knows what behaviors are acceptable.  Your child should also be aware of the consequences of inappropriate behavior.  Whether you use a counting method, time-outs, or charts, be sure to be consistent and avoid negotiations with your child.  Negotiating behaviors and punishments can be confusing and can also open the door for children to test their limits with their parents.
  • Explain new environments and what will be expected from your child.  The rules that apply to a playground are different that the rules at a doctor’s office.  Be sure that your child is aware of the difference.
  • Model good behavior!  Have you ever said, “I don’t know where she learns these things?!!”  We don’t have to look far.  Children refer to examples around them.  None of us are perfect, but we can do our best to model kindness and respect for others.  You’ll be surprised how simply modeling the behavior you want to see can make all the difference!


Camp Academia, Inc.’s patented cognitive processing software, Brainjogging has helped students successfully manage ADHD and its traditional symptoms when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, and structured routine.  

Call to learn more at 1-888-7-I-LEARN.


Five reasons why we need to curb screen time…

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by admin

If someone approached you to enroll your child in a social experiment, would you agree?  Probably not.  But that is exactly what we have done for the past decade since the introduction of smart phones and tablets.  With only a handful of studies on the effects of screens, many of us allow our children so much more hours of screen time than is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics.   We aren’t even sure of the long term effects of daily tablet and smart phone use, and yet statistics show that many of the apps downloaded and 50% of the Netflix accounts are geared towards children.  What’s the big deal you might ask.  Here we go…

1.  Excessive screen time is detrimental to overall health.

Children and adults who spend too much time in front of any type of screen often exercise less.  Even if they are not overeating, lack of exercise can lead to obesity.  In fact, too much exposure to screens, especially at night, can lead to sleep problems that can lead to obesity, attention, and cognitive issues.  Two hours before bedtime, all screens (TV, phones, tablets) need to be turned off and a bedtime routine needs to be established to ensure a good night’s sleep!  Children who get a good night’s sleep are more alert, have better processing, and are less likely to gain excessive weight.

2.  Giving young children screens can lead to behavior issues.

Have you ever gone to the supermarket with your child, and to prevent a meltdown, given her your smartphone?  We all have!  But we all know that rewarding bad behavior with a screen is not going to solve anything.  In fact, you are more likely to have meltdowns from your children if they think you will give them a tablet or phone each time.  What about when you take your child for their annual shots?  Some parents like to distract or comfort children with an app or a video on their phone.  Although the child might stop crying, think about what they missed.  What the child really needed was a warm hug, not an app!

3.  Too much screen time can lead to attention issues.

Did you know that ADHD is ten times more prevalent than it was 20 years ago?  A study from Iowa State University showed that kids ages 6-12 who spent more than 2 hours in front of a screen were more likely to have attention issues in school.  In fact, Demetri Christakis, an expert on children and media consumption, feels the speed and flash of modern video games and TV is a big concern.

“I think that the concern is that the pacing of the program, whether its video games or TV is over stimulating and contributes to attention problems,” Christakis says.
4.  Apps and video games provide TOO MUCH stimulation to developing minds.
 It seems so much easier to put on a story-time app for your toddler than to actually tell her a story.  The child, however, misses out on so much when we do that.  When a mother tells her child a story, the child listens to her mother’s voice, She has to listen for changes in intonation as well as try to read the expression on the faces of the characters in the book.  If her mother is a story-time pro, she might ask the child about the characters’ feelings, or what might happen next!  All these points might seem simple, but they are training the child’s brain to read social cues, to think critically, and to be imaginative.  When a child watches a story on a tablet, the characters move as the story is told.  There is often background music and sound effects.  Also, the child can often touch part of the story to make characters and other parts of the screen move.  All this while the bright light of the tablet is inches from her face!  In this scenario, the child has no chance to use her own imagination.  If she wants to move a long with the story she simply has to push an arrow.  She doesn’t even have to wait for the app’s narrator to finish the sentence.  So many important social skills are missing, when we depend on a tablet to entertain our kids.
5.  Therapies and treatments cannot overcome the effects of video games.
After 30 years of helping children overcome learning difficulties, Shirley Pennebaker has observed the following:  Lack of sleep and over exposure to video games are detrimental to learning!  While Brainjogging can definitely help a child affected by screens and video games, the child must STOP playing video games first.  The next step would be to call Camp Academia and get the child on Brainjogging.


Sleep deprivation affects children differently than adults

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 by admin

If you have kids, then you know the horror of a sleep-deprived child!  We also know that we as adults need a good nights sleep to be our most productive.  However, a new study shows that sleep-deprivation affects children differently than adults.


“The process of sleep may be involved in brain “wiring” in childhood and thus affect brain maturation,” said Salome Kurth, Ph.D., first author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.   A lot of important neural connections are made when children sleep.   According to his recent study,  when adults are sleep-deprived, damage is seen in the frontal regions of the brain.  However, when children do not get needed sleep, damage occurs in the parieto-occipital (language, math, spacial relationships, vision) region, in the back of the brain.  This correlates with the fact, that in childhood, sleep is needed for development of the posterior regions of the brain.

After staying up too late, both children and adults need a period of deep sleep to recover.  This recovery phase is characterized by an increase in an electrical pattern called slow-wave activity, which can be measured with a non-invasive technique called an electroencephalogram. With a large number of electrode channels distributed across the scalp, this method also detects which brain regions show more slow-wave activity than others.

Kurth and his colleagues at the University of Zurich, measured the deep sleep patterns of two groups of children.  One group had a  normal night’s sleep.  The other had been kept up past their bedtimes by reading and playing games with them.   After only getting half of a night’s worth of sleep, the children showed more slow-wave activity towards the back regions of the brain, the parieto-occipital areas. This suggests that the brain circuitry in these regions may be particularly susceptible to a lack of sleep.

In addition, the study also showed a correlation between deep sleep activity and myelin content in the brain.  Myelin is a fatty microstructure of the brain’s white matter that allows electrical information between brain cells to travel faster. It can be measured with a specific magnetic resonance imaging technique.  The higher the content of myelin in a region of the brain, the more the sleep loss effect is similar to adults.  Regions of the brain that are undergoing development, will be more affected by sleep deprivation.


How can we be sure that our child is getting enough sleep?

Creating the right bed time routine for your child can be tricky.  But if you make it simple and clear, it can be done!

  • Set up a routine from start to finish and be consistent in following each step.
  • Have your child start his bedtime routine at the same time each day.
  • If your child responds to visual cues, a chart might help!
  • Avoid video games.
  • Some children have food sensitivities that can irritate their digestive system and prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep.  Stop all snacks and meals 2 hours before bedtime if you think that might be the case.
  • Keep a journal to see what worked and what didn’t.

Children love predictability!  A bedtime routine often leads to better behavior because our kids will get needed sleep as well as know what to expect each day.







Friday, December 18th, 2015 by admin





The most common ADHD medications:

• Boost alertness
• Increase focus and attention

BEWARE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS! ALERT WHEN? FOCUS WHERE? Medications do not dictate with priority! “Stimulants in ADHD medications that boost alertness have a detrimental effect on sleep.” Katherine Kidwell, University of Nebraska

Before turning to medication, try other solutions:

• Journal sleep habits for two weeks to determine if poor sleep habit may be causing ADHD-like behavior in your child.
• Take a look at CURRENT routines and schedules
o Consider whether the lack of structure is the culprit
o REMEMBER, children feel secure with scheduling
• Try a more structured environment.
o Clear schedules
o Definite snack and dinner times
o Clear instructions for children to follow
o Clear homework location and expectation
o Clear bedtime routine including quieting down time with activities such as audio books, reading, or coloring.

After your child is prescribed medication:
• Journal sleep habits for two weeks
• Be sure to follow up with your child’s pediatrician and inform him of any noticeable changes, both good and bad!

Sleep is extremely important at any age. A good night’s sleep allows the body to rest and repair itself and the brain to retain all the information learned during the day and prepare for new information the next day!

“Common ADHD Medications Do Indeed Disturb Children’s Sleep” – by Aimee Cunningham NPR November 24, 2015

Bedtime Reminders for Holiday Break

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 by admin

We have said it before and it is a great reminder over the holidays: Kids need a bedtime routine and a regular bedtime hour. Researcher Yvonne Kelly, from University College, London, has been studying all the details surrounding bedtime in thousands of homes in the U.K. She found that kids with irregular bedtimes exhibited more behavioral issues. Kids with no bedtime schedule were more likely to hit, act out, not get along with peers, and be emotionally withdrawn.

“Kelly thinks young children probably experience an inconsistent bedtime like having jet-lag.” If the time switches from 7:00 to 9:00 to 10:00 to 8:00, the kids experience a jet-lag effect and behavior problems increase. Just like adults, kids are lethargic, become cranky and can have difficulty interacting with others. As parents, we want our kids to be able to handle some of the social expectations that we encounter during the holidays – parties, shopping, and last-minute changes in the family schedule.

We have this biological clock deep inside the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. “This tiny cluster of nerve cells, no bigger than a grain of rice, is super-sensitive to sunlight and other light coming in through our eyes. At the end of the day, when the ambient light starts to fade, a brain hormone called melatonin starts to rise, causing drowsiness.”

Sleep researcher Russell Rosenberg says that children have this rise in melatonin earlier in the evening than teenagers or adults. The natural time for young children to fall asleep is around 7 or 8 o’clock at night. It’s very important to turn off light sources starting about 30 minutes before bedtime. Make it a part of the routine: TV off, computers off, and video games definitely OFF, then brush teeth, read and snuggle into bed. This way, the child’s natural melatonin release will maintain a healthy level in the body and help your child drift naturally off to sleep.

Over the holidays, remember to get your child Brainjogging every day, twice daily, as a way to keep the brain healthy and more prepared to face the inconsistencies that come with the holiday season! If you have questions or need a boost of cheerleading, contact Camp Academia at!

Time Change Advantage!

Monday, November 11th, 2013 by admin

Now that the time change has gone into effect, it’s a perfect opportunity to be reminded about the importance of good sleep. Children require 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and if your child uses a nightlight this research may be of even more interest to you.

A recent study out of Ohio State University found that the color of the nightlight affected the mood of hamsters. The little critters who were exposed to blue or white light at night exhibited more depressive-like symptoms and depression-related changes in the brain than those exposed to red light.

The findings suggest that exposing the brain to brighter light in the sleeping hours could result in negative effects on health. You may even consider changing the bathroom nightlight to a red bulb. “Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during time of the day when they shouldn’t,” Tracy Bedrosian, a co-author of the study, suggested. “This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people.”

Now that the kids are a bit more willing to go to bed as it turns darker earlier, it is important that parents look after their brain health, even during sleep. Camp Academia has experienced much success with children who have sleep issues. Brainjogging each and every day can improve academic, athletic and emotional health and well-being! 5-7 minutes twice a day is all it takes to improve a child’s brain effectiveness!

Back-To-School Bootcamp!

Monday, August 19th, 2013 by admin


Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
– William Wordsworth, September

It’s that time of year! Time to gear up the back-to-school brains, thinking of lists and clothes and activities and forms. As September fast approaches, there are several things you can do now to help your child ease into a new academic year:

Retrain the Body Clock – begin that evening routine. It can be as simple as bathing, brushing teeth, and being in bed with a good book by a specific time;
Cut Off Screen Time – shut down phones and electronics after the dinner hour, providing at least two hours of no stimulation prior to bedtime;
Reward Routine – for every day your child follows the routine, add marbles to a jar or points to a chart. After so many marbles/points, allow your child to pick out his/her favorite cereal or morning breakfast favorite to start off the school year right!

The key is getting your child’s brain to start thinking about thinking! Morning and evening routines must be a part of the preparation for school. Brainjoggers can begin entering NEW VOCABULARY into word lists for the new school year! Get back into the habit of Brainjogging early in the morning and again in the afternoon. If you have suggestions, tricks, or new ideas for helping your school-aged child start off on the right foot, please send in your comments!

Good Luck out there, troops!

Get Your Zzzzzzzz

Monday, August 12th, 2013 by admin

Getting your child to bed at the same time every night could give your child’s brain a boost, reports Researchers at University College London. They found that when 3-year olds have a regular bedtime, they perform better on cognitive tests administered at age 7 than children whose bedtimes were inconsistent. It did not matter whether children went to bed early or late – only that their bed TIME was regular.

Researchers suggested that having inconsistent bedtimes may hurt a child’s cognitive development by disrupting circadian rhythms. It may result in sleep deprivation and affect brain plasiticity at critical ages of brain development. If a child’s sleep is deprived AND inconsistent, the risk for cognitive impairments is even higher.

Researchers found that GIRLS were more negatively affected by this issue than boys. The difference in scores between groups of boys and girls were not statistically significant for reading and spatial tests, but math assessment outcomes were. So what can we do to prevent this?

Get your children going on pre-bedtime routines now before school begins. In order to keep the body’s internal clock in sync with the brain, bedtimes on weekends and in the summer should only be one hour off the normal time. The brain needs that consistency in order to most effectively perform! Help your children develop this healthy habit!