Pediatric Behavioral Health

About Dr. Jacobson

Dr. JacobsonJonathan Jacobson, MD trained in Adult Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts. He is known for his respectful, thoughtful collaboration with children, adolescents and their families and he places great value in identifying and building on their strengths and abilities.

During his Fellowship he worked closely with Dr. Fisher and Dr. Marshall in the Pediatric Neurology-Psychiatry Clinic where he pursued his interest in the interface of the two fields. He has maintained his connection to UMass as a member of the Medical Group in the Department of Psychiatry and through teaching experiences with medical students and psychiatric trainees.

Areas of Practice
    • Medication Consultation, Evaluation, & Management
    • Psychiatric Evaluation
    • Medication Treatment
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    • Autism / Pervasive Developmental Disorder
      Dr. Jacobson's Helpful Tip
      How To Help Your Child Sleep Well

      We all know the importance of sleeping well—it allows us to rest, recharge, and feel our best—yet for many, it is not an easy thing to achieve. Lots of children have sleep problems such as:

      • Difficulty falling asleep
      • Waking up frequently at night
      • Having bad dreams or nightmares
      • Talking or walking during sleep
      • Waking up too early in the morning
      • Feeling sleepy or irritable during the day

      Because many different things can get in the way of having regular, refreshing sleep, it is important to identify what is keeping your child from sleeping well. Some issues are temporary, such as being up late for a special occasion, doing an “all-nighter” for a project due the next day, or coping with a stressful event. Once the stress passes, the child is usually able to catch up on missed sleep. Other sleep problems however may be more long-lasting. Many children do not have a regular bedtime routine or sleeping schedule or have certain “sleep habits” (such as using the television to fall asleep) that make it difficult to fall asleep or to return to sleep if they wake up.

      Parents can help their children develop good sleep habits or “sleep hygiene” by following some basic guidelines:

      • Consistency
        • Go to bed and wake up the same time every day (including weekends)
        • Use the same routine each time (typically 30 minutes)
        • Use a firm and consistent approach to stall tactics to help avoid reinforcing them
        • Except for younger children who need naps, avoid naps during the day
      • Relaxation
        • Create a relaxing routine such as a bath and reading a story
        • Make after-dinner playtime relaxing. Too much activity can keep children awake
        • Avoid emotional conversations, watching TV, or video games before bedtime
      • Diet, Exercise, & Medication
        • Avoid big meals close to bedtime.
        • Avoid giving children caffeinated products less than six hours before bedtime.
        • Exercise can promote good sleep, but not within three hours of bedtime.
        • Be aware that some prescription and over-the-counter medications may interfere with sleep (such as the decongestant pseudoephedrine/Sudafed).  
      • Environment
        • Set a comfortable bedroom temperature.
        • Keep the bedroom dark. If necessary, use a small nightlight.
        • Expose your child to natural sunlight soon after awakening in the morning.
        • Keep the noise level low. A “white noise” or sound machine can be helpful.
        • Keep the TV and video games out of your child’s bedroom.
      Finally, keep in mind that new or on-going sleep problems may be the result of psychiatric or medical illnesses such as:
      • Depression / Bipolar disorder
      • Anxiety / Trauma (PTSD)
      • Substance use (caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, other drugs)
      • Pain
      • Breathing problems (apnea, asthma, allergies)
      • Heartburn (acid reflux)