Adjusting a child’s sleep habits now makes for happier school days

By Christine Rivers - Program Director, Regional Community Family YMCA
Putnam - posted Mon., Aug. 5, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Summertime, and the sleeping is easy... With any luck, your kids are splashing and playing all day, and collapsing in an exhausted heap at night. Without the early-morning school alarm, they're probably sleeping more than ever. They may actually be getting the amount of sleep their growing bodies need!

The National Sleep Foundation's guidelines suggest that pre-school-age children get 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night, that school-age children get 10 to 11 hours, and teens get 8.5 to 9.25 hours per night. Those are pretty easy goals to achieve when the alarm isn't blaring at 5:45 a.m.

In just a few weeks, the joy of sleeping in is going to come to a screeching halt. Will your kids be able to fall asleep early enough to rise and shine for the demands of a school day?

The foundation says that poor or inadequate sleep in school-aged children can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact their ability to learn in school.

Now is the time to reset your children's clocks. If you know that the alarm will be set for 6 a.m. on the first day of school, you also know that your 8-year-old should be going to bed no later than 9 p.m. the night before to get an adequate amount of sleep. By shifting bedtime back a few minutes each night between now and the start of school, you can have your child on a comfortable sleep and wake schedule, rather than starting the school year off with yawns and tears.

The Center for Disease Control makes the following recommendations for a health night's sleep:

•Go to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning.
•Sleep in a quiet, dark and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
•Make your bed comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV or listening to music.
•Remove all TVs, computers and other "gadgets" from the bedroom.
•Avoid large meals before bedtime.

Set the rules now so your kids know what to expect in the coming weeks. Unplug those iPods, limit the after-dark screen time, and get ready for a good night's sleep and a great school year!

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.