Open Accessibility Menu

Put sleep on your back-to-school list

Published in Pediatrics, Sleep Medicine Author: Shauna Mullings, MBBS

One of the joys of summer is a more relaxed schedule, which often includes staying up late, sleeping in later and less consistent bedtime routines. Sleep is vital to your child’s health, academic performance and mood. Children ages five to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teens should have at least nine hours. As you review the back-to-school list, don’t forget to add healthy sleep.

  1. Gradually adjust your child’s sleep schedule. Two weeks to a month before the start of school, start setting a limit on the bedtime and wake-up time. Every two to three days move the times about 15 minutes earlier.
  2. Emphasize active mornings rather than late nights. Soak up the last days of summer in the bright light of the morning. Take a walk or play outside rather than watch television indoors in the morning.
  3. Be consistent. Keep a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, even on weekends. A regular sleep schedule makes it easier for your child to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up at the right time each day. Occasional late nights will occur, just adjust the sleep schedule the following night and get back to the regular schedule as soon as possible.
  4. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. An age-appropriate bedtime routine helps children wind down and prepare their bodies and minds for sleep. Avoid exercising, intellectually stimulating activities and screen time in the last few hours before bedtime. Read to younger children, encourage older children to read on their own and connect with your child before you require them to stay in bed.
  5. Create an environment that encourages sleep. The child’s room should be quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
  6. Keep screens out of the bedroom. The flickering lights and mental stimulation from televisions, computers, cell phones and video games can make it difficult for your child to fall and stay asleep.
  7. Eating well and regular exercise promote sleep. A healthy diet and lots of physical activity set children up for sleeping success
  8. Be a good role model. Talk to your children about the importance of sleep for their health and well-being. Model healthy sleep habits by maintaining a regular sleep schedule.