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Back to School Means Back to Bedtime

The hustle and bustle of Back to School

Image by usag.yongsan via Flickr

Now that the new school year is underway, many parents are looking for ways to help their kids get the sleep they need for success.  After the long days and late nights of summer, shifting sleep schedules can be just as important as stocking up on school supplies and setting up teacher conferences.

When children don’t get enough sleep, it affects their whole being.  A little grumpiness in the morning is one thing, but lack of sleep can cause a bad attitude toward teachers, classmates, and school in general.  Sleep deprivation can also lead to poor school performance, lower grades, bullying, and possibly even increase the chances of a child becoming obese.  With all those reasons, it’s easy to see why going back to bedtimes is an essential part of going back to school.

But what can you do to take the trauma out of this transition?  Here are seven steps to sorting out your kid’s sleep schedule as part of starting the new school year.

1.       Establish a Bedtime

One of the best tools parents can use to help their kids get all the sleep they need now that school has started is to set an expectation around what time they need to go to sleep.  Depending on their ages, children need differing amounts of sleep.  Ask your pediatrician if you aren’t sure how many hours your children need.

2.      Design a Bedtime Routine

Talk to your kids about what kinds of things they want to do to help them get ready for bed and encourage them to participate in establishing this new routine.  Setting up a standard set of activities that always precedes going to sleep signals their mind and body that bedtime is approaching.  Activities like taking a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a story are all great bedtime routine activities.

3.      Create a Sleep Sanctuary

Look at your child’s bedroom and sleeping arrangements and check to make sure they have a comfortable, safe sleep environment.  Because most people sleep best in a cool, dark, quiet room, check to see if the temperature is right, that nightlights are necessary, and that the noise of the television in the living room isn’t audible from the bed.

4.      Eliminate Electronics

Give your kids the best environment for a good night’s sleep by removing electronics like televisions, computers, video games, iPods, and cell phones from their bedroom.  Make a no-electronics at bedtime rule that makes these items off-limits from the start of their bedtime routine until morning.

5.      Cut Caffeine, Carbs, and Calories

To help your kids fall asleep at bedtime, eliminate caffeine and sugar intake in the two hours leading up bed.  It is also best to avoid heavy meals or snacks during those last two hours.

6.      Promote Good Sleep Hygiene

Model good sleep habits for your child by keeping a consistent schedule of when you go to sleep and when you wake up.  Don’t spend a lot of time doing other things like playing video games or working on your laptop while in your own bed to show kids that it is important to save the bed for sleeping.  Make sleep a priority in your life so that your children learn that it is one of the foundations of good health.


About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; http://www.valleysleepcenter.com.


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