Back To School – Time To Sleep!
We’re in the final frantic days of getting ready to send the kids back to school.
Fresh haircut? Check.
New backpack? Check.
New clothes? Check.
Proper sleep schedule? Wait… what?
If there’s one essential to-do before the school year starts up again, it’s to get your child back on the right sleep schedule after what has probably been a summer of staying up late and sleeping in. Yes, it’s even more important than buying your little darling those new Lebron Nikes. Proper sleep is mandatory for your child’s academic success. Without sleep, all aspects of learning and development are affected.
You probably know that adults need approximately eight hours of sleep a night to be at their best. But children’s sleep requirements vary by age – preschoolers need as much as 13 hours a night, kids up to 12 need ten or 11 hours, and teens need as much as nine a night.
Sure, you could wait until the first day of school, wake your 14-year-old up at 6 a.m. and pray for the best. But that isn’t doing anyone any favors. In fact, what you’re doing is simulating jet lag – a sudden schedule change of more than an hour is like traveling through a couple of time zones.
So here are some tips on getting your child sleep-ready for the start of school:
- Ease into the new bed time. A sudden jolt to the sleep schedule is bad no matter when you do it. Start now, and over the next two weeks, adjust your child’s bedtime by increments. For example, if they’ve been staying up until 11 all summer and you want them to go to bed at 9 once classes begin, move bedtime back by half an hour every couple of days. This makes for a smooth transition.
- Start the day with sunshine. Studies have shown that staying in tune with nature’s daily cycle of sunlight and darkness. Early morning exposure to sunlight is a clear signal to your brain that the day has begun and helps reset your internal clock.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. This applies to weekends too. Your child should always go to bed and wake-up at about the same time. If their schedule varies by more than 90 minutes, it can have a negative impact on their mood and school performance.
- Keep a regular study schedule. That late night cramming isn’t really the answer to anything. In most cases, pulling an all-nighter does more harm than good. It’s best to find a good pace and have a regular study time so that students get sufficient sleep.
- Reduce caffeine. If your child is a coffee or tea drinker, make sure they don’t drink any at least three hours before bedtime. And be wary of other foods that have caffeine in them, such as chocolate.
Implementing these rules for your child might not be easy; we all know that no kid ever wants to go to bed. But a slammed door or two over the next couple weeks could be worth it if it gets your child off to a strong start when the school bell rings.
Crozer-Keystone offers a multidisciplinary approach to the identification and treatment of all types of sleep disorders. CKHS also offers skilled care for pediatric sleep disorders through the Crozer-Keystone Pediatric Sleep Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://sleepcenters.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703).