By Annette Liao, DO | Family Medicine PGY-1
Can you believe it? The end of summer is quickly approaching. With fall around the corner, many families are thinking about the school year and how to prepare their kids for the classroom. This could prove to be a bigger challenge this year, as schools reopen their doors for in-person classes after a very different year. Now, after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in, it is time to help kids get back on a normal classroom schedule, and that starts with a good night’s sleep.
Back-to-School Kids Sleep Tips
- As their brains develop, school-aged children need more sleep than adults to do their best in school and to stay alert during the day. Here is how much sleep kids should have:
- Preschoolers (ages 3-5) require 10-13 hours of sleep
- School-age children (ages 6-13) require 9-11 hours of sleep
- Teenagers (ages 14-17) require 8-10 hours of sleep
- Start slow – most kids will not be able to suddenly switch from being night owls to morning birds. A slow transition over a few weeks is best. Move bedtime by 15 minutes each day until they are getting the amount of sleep they need.
- Keep a clock in each child’s bedroom so that they know what time they should go to sleep and what time they should wake up.
- Avoid using electronics at least 1 hour before bed, and no electronics in bed! The light from the screens on TVs, tablets, and phones tricks our brains into thinking it is daytime and keeps us from a good night’s sleep. It’s good for everyone to turn off screens starting two hours before bedtime.
- Instead of electronics, establish a relaxing bedtime routine. This could involve reading, stretching, or meditation. Routines will train the body that it is bedtime and can decrease anxiety around bedtime in kids and adults. Make the environment as relaxing as possible.
- Keep the schedule, even on weekends. Parents and caregivers should all be on the same page with the sleep schedule. Children over the age of 5 should be informed on what that plan is as well.
Having quality sleep is essential for success in school. Not getting enough sleep affects a student’s ability to function, learn, and grow. These tips will not only help to get your kids back on track for school, but also set them up for a lifelong healthy habit! Learn more about other back-to-school tips for a healthy and happy start to the new school year.