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Back to school sleep tips for kids

Filed in
  • parenting
  • Teens
  • School
  • children

By Lynn Celmer  |  Aug 11, 2014
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For kids, the long summer of sleeping in, staying up late and enjoying leisurely mornings is coming to a rapid close. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers tips to help parents adjust their children’s sleep schedules for both success in school and to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“Ensuring that children get the healthy sleep they need to learn, function and grow is crucial,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the AASM. “The end of the summer is an important time to get your kids back on track.”

Adjust for earlier wake times. Many school days start early in the morning, and that makes healthy sleep for children a challenge. How can parents make sure that children are ready for a more stringent sleep schedule that comes with the start of school? Don’t wait until school starts:  The AASM recommends a gradual transition in the upcoming weeks.

Get the right amount of sleep. The AASM recommends that school-aged children and pre-teens get about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night for optimal health, daytime alertness and school performance. Adolescents, on the other hand, need to get a little more than 9 hours of nightly sleep during the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.

Improve bedtime practices. To help children fall and stay asleep during this adjustment period, the AASM recommends practicing healthy sleep habits. Avoid electronics before bedtime and especially while in bed. The bright light emitted by electronic devices can signal to the body that it should be awake and alert.

Helping children understand that sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle is important for their future. Poor sleep can increase the risk of physical health problems throughout a child’s life. These include obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

If a consistent sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene do not appear to help a child achieve healthy sleep, the child may be suffering from a chronic sleep problem. Sleep medicine physicians who have the specialized training and expertise to diagnose and treat all forms of sleep illness can help.

If your child has an ongoing sleep problem, seek out an AASM accredited sleep center near you.