Time to Set Kids' Back-to-School Sleep Clocks

FRIDAY Aug. 17, 2007 -- Sleep experts are reminding parents that establishing regular sleep habits should be included on children's back-to-school lists.

Children should gradually start adjusting their sleep schedules about two weeks prior to the start of the new school year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Children need adequate sleep in order to be alert and energized and able to perform their best at school.

"Kids tend to sleep and wake up later during the summer, making the transition to the school-year sleep schedule difficult. As tempting as it is to enjoy sleeping late in the final days of summer break, getting up earlier for school will be much easier if kids begin adjusting their sleep schedules now," Richard Gelula, CEO of the NSF, said in a prepared statement.

The NSF offers the following sleep tips for the start of the school and the rest of the school year:

  • Beginning two weeks to 10 days before the start of school, gradually adjust children to earlier sleep and wake times in order to set their biological clocks for the new schedule.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule on weekdays and avoid extreme changes in the routine on weekends.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading before bed.
  • Do not have televisions, computers, video games or other electronics in the bedroom. Don't let children watch television or use electronic devices during the half hour before bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine intake, especially after lunch.
  • Make sure children eat well and exercise

The NSF also offered sleep advice for parents:

  • Set a good example. By adopting good sleep habits, your children are less likely to develop bad sleep habits.
  • Talk to children about the importance of healthy sleep and the consequences of sleepiness, such as drowsy driving.
  • Parents need to understand that children, including teens, need more sleep than adults.
  • Children who have trouble waking in the morning on more than three days a week, or who snore, may not be getting enough sleep. They may need to be evaluated by a specialist.
  • Ask teachers whether your child is alert or sleepy during class. If there appears to be a problem, take steps to improve your child's sleep.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and sleep.

Posted: August 2007


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