Back-to-school time means getting back into the school-time sleep routine. The first couple weeks are the toughest since children may have been going to bed and getting up later during the summer break.
It might be wise to start the school-time sleep routine a couple weeks before school starts. Children will need a period of adjustment until their sleep patterns adjust to the school year.
Sleep plays an important part in brain development and it's crucial for children to get enough sleep as they grow and develop. Sleep not only provides the opportunity for the body to physically rest, but also helps to reinforce what a child has learned throughout the day.
It is a well-known fact that sleep deprived children do not do as well in school. They become fatigued, inattentive and listless, as well as irritable, impatient, fussy and can even display aggressive behavior. An insufficient amount of sleep also decreases short-term memory and delays response time.
An added benefit for children who get more sleep is a lower risk for childhood obesity. Studies have shown that children who slept an hour less than what they needed increased their risk of obesity by 80 percent.
The reason for this is that the hormones that control hunger are related to the amount and quality of sleep a child gets. If a child does not get enough sleep, his or her appetite turns on and stays on.
- Don't give children caffeinated products or large amounts of food before bedtime.
- Institute a winding down period, keeping activities before bedtime quiet and calm.
- Don't allow children to play computer games, watch television or do other activities that stimulate the senses.
- Alert your child 30 minutes before bedtime and again 10 minutes beforehand.
- Maintain a consistent bedtime each night, including weekends.
- Make sure your child's bedroom is dark and has a comfortable temperature.
Sleep requirements may differ from child to child, but generally, a younger child requires more sleep than an older child.
Between the ages of five and 11, a child should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Teens should allow for at least eight to nine hours of sleep and it's better if they go to bed the same time each night and wake the same time each morning.
It is especially difficult for teenagers to get a good night's sleep because they want to stay up later and wake up later. They end up trying to catch up on their sleep over the weekend.
This irregular sleep pattern can actually worsen sleep problems and make getting to sleep at a reasonable time during the week even harder.
To get sufficient amounts of sleep, children and parents should reduce the number of distractions that keep them awake at night. These distractions include watching television before bedtime, surfing the internet and playing computer games. Worries about school, homework or family can also cause poor sleeping habits as can snacks and drinks that contain caffeine.
Depending on the age of the child, a back-to-school bedtime routine may be difficult to enforce. Using the time before "lights out" may be a good opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their child and catch-up on the day's events.
A bedtime routine is the best way to ensure that your child gets enough sleep and helps them to fall asleep more easily.