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(Phoenix, Arizona) July 29, 2018 -The school year has started in several cities in Arizona and for many parents, one of the biggest challenges is how to get kids back on their back-to-school sleep schedule.  Kids have become used to staying up later during the summer, and they simply don’t want to go to bed!

“Getting the right amount of good sleep is essential to a child’s physical, emotional and mental health,” says Lauri Leadley, sleep expert and President of Valley Sleep Center.

When it comes to sleep and children, parents need to take charge. A 2014 Sleep in America poll revealed that when parents set and enforce rules, children sleep an average of 1.1 hours longer than children whose parents do not have rules about bedtime.

Leadley offers these five hacks to help parents get their kids back on track with their sleep.

  1. Plan bedtime and wake time so that your children get the optimal amount of sleep. Children ages 6 to 12 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep and teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. If they are getting less sleep than they need, it can contribute to a host of problems including daytime sleepiness, grumpiness, doing poorly in school, lowered immunity and more. Getting the right amount of sleep is as important to a child as getting air and water.
    • Hack: The iPhone has a “bedtime” feature on the clock that will send you reminders about when to get ready to go to bed. It can be programmed to wake you up at your set time with a gentle chime.
  2. Set a “shut off time” for electronics such as cell phones, tablets, video games, TV. The blue light that’s emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule.
    • Hack: Use an app like Apple’s Screen Time or Qustodio to limit access to a child’s phone at bedtime.
  3. Establish a bedtime routine. Sudden change can be stressful for children. A normal routine brings comfort and consistency to a child’s life and helps them to establish habits.
    • Hack: Use an app like “Daniel Tiger’s Night and Day” which helps kids develop the habit of getting ready to sleep and go to school in the morning. With songs and games, kids can help Daniel Tiger take a bath, brush his teeth, and even pick out what pajamas to wear.
  4. Give your kids a light, healthy snack before bedtime. The best bedtime snacks contain tryptophan (think milk, or cheese), an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin, a chemical in the brain that aids in the sleep process. The worst bedtime snacks contain sugar or caffeine which should be avoided. Many parents find that having a rule like “No caffeine or sugar after 7:00 pm on school nights” helps in getting their kids to sleep.
    Hack: Fill a container and label it “bedtime snacks” that kids can only have just before bed. It will give them something to look forward to. Snacks like peanut butter and crackers or an apple and cheese can help a little one’s tummy grumbles go away so they can go to sleep.
  5. Make your child’s bedroom a refuge for sleep. Take out anything not related to sleep. Make the sleeping area comfortable with blankets, and sheets and a special stuffed animal or pillow.
    • Hack: Let your kids help you to turn their bedroom into a special sleeping place and they will be more willing to go to sleep!

If your child is having sleep issues such as snoring, waking up in the middle of the night, or resisting sleep, there is help. Valley Sleep Center has sleep experts on staff who specialize in working with children. For more information, go to ValleySleepCenter.com. 

About Valley Sleep Center: 

Valley Sleep Center provides complete sleep health management including sleep studies, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. They have five clinics in the Phoenix area including locations in Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.  Valley Sleep Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For more information, go to valleysleepcenter.com.