Health Team

Get kids back on school sleep schedule before year begins

Posted August 15

Many students across the state are less than two weeks away from going back to school, as the first day of classes in traditional calendar schools rolls around on Aug. 28.

As the time nears, many children will be giving up their wide open summer sleep habits to get into the groove of school. That means parents will be fretting over the thought of dragging them out of bed early.

Kids can be eased into a schedule if parents start waking them up earlier in small increments.

"Start waking the child 15 minutes earlier, and at the same time, start putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier on a daily basis, and then add small increments so that they can get into the school sleep-wake schedule," said Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Harneet Walia.

Walia, with Cleveland Clinic Sleep Medicine, says teens tend to have the most difficulty adjusting their sleep habits. Their bodies can be wired to a delayed sleep-wake schedule.

They naturally want to go to bed late and wake up late.

It's just as challenging for parents of very young children who still get a day-time nap but won't get that rest at school.

Walia said parents can reduce those naps down to 15 minutes before eliminating them completely. If kids get a good night's sleep, they shouldn't feel sleep deprived.

A big obstacle of sound sleep may be kids’ screen-time habits.

"We don't want exposures to TV, or any kinds of screen, before the bedtime," Walia said. "That can interfere with the sleep, the blue light from the screen can interfere with the sleep quality as well."

Walia says the goal is to have your child alert and more energetic, so they will be ready to concentrate on learning.

Research shows insufficient sleep challenges the brain's ability to absorb and process information.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends preschoolers get 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day. School-aged kids need 9 to 11 hours, and teenagers should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.


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