Parents know good sleep is essential for healthy growth and functioning. Parents also know that good sleep can be hard to come by especially when it comes to adjusting kids’ sleep schedules during the school year. With the summer winding down, and the new school year is just around the corner. As we start to prepare students for going back to school, it is important to adjust to a regular sleep routine. Transitioning from a carefree summer schedule to a school schedule can be difficult. An adequate amount of sleep is beneficial to help your child be successful during the school day.
Kids who are getting the correct amount of sleep should be able to wake up in the morning for school without difficulty, and feel like they had a good nights sleep. Here are a few things to keep an eye on as your child eases into his or her school sleep schedule:
How much sleep is your child getting? Make sure your child is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night. A grade school child ages 6-12 requires 9-11 hours of sleep and a middle school and high school children ages 13-18 require 8-10 hours of sleep.
Sleep and wake time
Is your child’s bedtime and wake time regular all 7 nights/day of the week? Ensure your child has a consistent routine on weeknights and weekends. When a child is on a regular sleep and wake schedule throughout the week, this creates a circadian rhythm, allowing for healthy brain, mood and memory function.
Do you hear your child snoring at night? Snoring could in children typically is not normal and could mean your child has a sleep disorder. An evaluation by your child’s pediatrician or a sleep specialist is recommended if your child is snoring.
Is your child on electronic devices right before bed? The bright light from the electronic screens can delay your child’s sleep for several minutes to over an hour or more. The bright light tells your child’s brain that they are not sleepy and they stay awake longer than if they were not on electronics at bedtime. It is also recommended to establish an “electronic curfew”, for your household, shutting down all electronic devices 60 minutes before bed or consider removing all electronic devices from your child’s bedroom.
Are your child’s bed covers messed, twisted and off the bed in the morning? This could be a sign that you child has restless sleep. Restless sleep may not allow for a good quality of sleep and may result in your child waking up and feeling unrested in the morning for school.
Did you know that children age 12 and under should not consume caffeinated beverages? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 12 do not consume caffeine beverages and children over age 12 limit they are caffeine consumption to only 100 mg in a day (equal to 1 cup of coffee). Caffeine affects sleep especially if taken later in the afternoon or evening hours, and its effects of wakefulness linger in the body for up to 8 or more hours preventing a child from falling asleep, affecting sleep quality and quantity.
For more information, or if your child has difficulty sleeping, please contact the Children’s Sleep Center.
Karen Johnson, APRN, is a certified nurse practitioner at the Children’s Sleep Center.