Back to School & Sleep

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Ahhhh, summer vacation. Swimming, camping, amusement parks, and later bed times for children. But school is just around the corner. How can parents help get their children’s sleep back on schedule so they’re not tired when school starts and the alarm goes off way earlier than in the summer?
Do the Math. About two weeks before school starts, calculate how much earlier your children need to get up for school. For example, is your child is sleeping in until 9:00 AM and will have to get up at 7:00 AM for school, that’s two hours. Figure out roughly how much earlier they need to get up each day so that they’re ready for the school alarm clock. If they got up just ten minutes earlier every day, they’d be on track for the earlier wake-up time.
How Much Sleep? While you’re figuring out their wake-up times, just how much sleep does your child need? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012) recommends that school age children (kindergarteners to 8th graders) need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Ninth and 10th graders need 9.25 hours while 11th and 12th graders need 8.5 hours.
More Sleep? Your child needs more sleep if he/she has challenges getting up in the morning. Obviously, if your child falls asleep during school, he/she needs more sleep. Another reason your child may need more sleep if they are overly active and/or acting out.
Routines Help. Make bedtime consistent, relaxing routine. For younger children, a bath and story time are positive ways to end the day. If your children are sensitive to caffeine and/or sugar, eliminate these in the evenings. Don’t forget, chocolate contains caffeine.
Electronics & Sleep. Keep electronics out of the bedroom two hours before bedtime. Even the light from televisions or electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps aides sleep. Following these suggestions and a healthy breakfast will help your child be ready to learn when he/she returns to school this fall.

 

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