Catching Zzzzz’s to Get A’s: Getting Your Kids on a Regular Back-to-School Sleep Schedule
Parents of school-aged children know that bedtime can sometimes turn into a battle of wills. This is especially true at the start of the school year when kids are adjusting to a new sleep schedule.
“As parents, it’s our responsibility to help kids develop healthy sleep habits,” said Dr. Mark Perry, board-certified pediatrician with Lifetime Health Medical Group.
Experts recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep for younger kids and 9 to 10 hours of sleep for teens. Perry offers tips to help kids adjust to earlier bedtimes:
- Move bedtime up gradually as school approaches. You can move bedtime up by a half-hour until you reach the desired time.
- Once you get to the bedtime you want, stick to it. This is easier said than done. Choose a reasonable time for your children, but strive for the recommended hours of sleep for each age group.
- Make a relaxing activity part of the bedtime routine. Try a warm bath or read to your child.
- Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet before bed. Keeping TVs and computers out of your child’s bedroom will help. Consider using a room-darkening shade to combat longer daylight hours.
- Teach kids over age 8 to set their own alarm clock for the correct time. This will help teach them responsibility, as well as relieve mom or dad of the job of waking the child up.
- Stick to the new schedule even on weekends. It may be tempting to let your kids sleep in on Saturday and Sunday, but in reality, it just makes it more difficult when Monday rolls around.
- Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor if you suspect your child is having problems falling asleep or staying asleep. It may be the result of a treatable sleep disorder. Some of the more common conditions include Restless Legs Syndrome, sleep terrors, sleepwalking and sleep apnea.
“Adequate sleep is very important for children as lack of sleep has been linked with many health issues,” added Perry.
These sleep-related health issues range from anxiety, depression and concentration problems to an increase in the chances of car accidents for older teens.
If you need a pediatrician for any health issues, including those mentioned above, go to www.lifetimehealth.org for more information.