Summer is almost over and those crisp fall nights are just around the corner, which means whether we like it or not, school is starting.  The demands of the school day are much different than the lazy days of summer, so now is the time to start your children on a back to school sleep routine!

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that students get 8-10 hours of sleep.  However, according to their studies only around 15% of children get the recommended amount of sleep. What prevents children from getting the right amount of sleep?  There is an array of factors but some of the most common are use of technology, such as computers and video games, caffeine intake, heavy loads of homework, extracurricular activities, and schools with early start times.

Why is sleep so important to students? 

Consistent and quality sleep will improve your student’s mental, emotional, and physical performance. It can also improve their immune system, balance hormones, and improve overall brain function, all of which are needed for success in the academic setting.  Students getting adequate sleep have been found to perform better on memory and motor tasks compared to those who do not get adequate amounts of sleep.

How can we help our kids to get the right amount of sleep to give them the best advantage going into the school year?

Start trying these basic ideas to get your children’s sleep schedule developed.

  • Have them stick to a strict sleep schedule; create a consistent bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual such as reading a book or taking a warm shower or bath.
  • Make sure children are getting exercise on a daily basis and spending time outdoors as opposed to watching tv and playing video games.
  • Exposure to electronic devices can make it hard to fall asleep due to the particular types of light that come from the screen, which activate the brain.
  • Evaluate your child’s sleeping space.
    • An ideal sleeping space should be 60-67 degrees, free from outside noise, like a tv or stereo, and free from any light.
      • Black out curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, or “white noise “machines can help create this restful environment.
    • Make sure your child’s mattress and pillow are comfortable and supportive.
    • Keep the room clutter free and clean.
  • Use light to help your children manage their circadian rhythms.  Avoid bright light exposure in the evening and expose children to sunlight during the morning hours.  This will help keep your circadian rhythms in check.
  • Avoid heavy meals or chocolates and candies before bedtime.
  • If your child is having trouble making and keeping a routine or just can’t seem to get the right amount of sleep speak with a professional to get more help and advice.

The benefits of sleep are so important for children to be effective and successful in life and particularly in school.  Following some of the recommendations above will give your child a great start to his or her school day.


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