Children nationwide will return to school over the next month or so. But getting back in the habit isn’t always so easy.
Summertime lends itself to late nights, play dates with friends and a desire for findings things to do in an unscheduled environment. For school-aged children, time is at your fingertips.
But getting back to school can be a hassle for students. Sleep won’t come as easy for those who don’t have a properly-adjusted sleep schedule. Recent research shows that children need proper sleep schedules in order to function properly during the school day and set themselves on the right path for the rest of the school year.
Need for sleep
We spend about a third of our lives asleep but rarely do we know what it feels like to be truly rested. The AASM recommends different hours of sleep for people of different ages. For adults, the necessary amount of sleep hovers around seven to nine hours a night.
But for preschoolers, school-aged children and teenagers, the numbers are considerably higher. School-aged children need between nine to 11 hours per night, while teenagers need closer to eight to ten hours a night to feel truly rested. Even preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours a night in order to feel truly rested.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to devastating effects. A lack of sleep in kids and teens is associated with attention behavior, and learning problems, and can even increase the risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.
Importance of a sleep schedule
Sleep can cause a lot of problems. But sleep loss can be avoided by students who properly adjust before heading back to school. Building a proper sleep schedule can help your body sync up a solid circadian rhythm. This helps you feel less tired and limiting the negative impacts that come from sleep loss.
Creating a comfortable sleep environment and maintaining a proper sleep can schedule can eliminate the minor problems that spring up from sleep. Keeping a proper schedule, even on the weekends, can help the body’s internal clock, allowing people to fall asleep and wake up more easily, according to research from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How to tell if your kids aren’t getting enough shut-eye?
You may be wondering if your child is getting adequate sleep each night. Are they just groggy in the morning, or are they actually sleep-deprived? You can look out for some of these signs.
- You have to set multiple alarms for them to get up, and even then, you’re dragging them out of bed.
- Your child complains about feeling tired or fatigued throughout the day.
- They take regular afternoon naps or they find themselves catching up on sleep over the weekend.
If the answer is yes to one or more of these questions, chances are good that your child is not getting enough sleep. Try one of these tips to help your child prioritize sleep and get the healthy rest they require.
What parents can do
- Parents will need to help their child maintain a proper sleep schedule. It’s more commonplace for children to stay up late in the summer. So helping youngsters adjust to an earlier wakeup and sleep time can help them stay more alert in class.
- Before the school year starts, parents may want to practice morning routines as well to get back into the habit. Help your child set an alarm to test out the first few days before school begins. Make your child a lunch and ask them to brush their teeth and get dressed. You can even take a drive by the school. Practice runs can help them build the proper schedule ahead of the school year.
- Parents will want to start by creating a soothing bedtime routine for their children, which can begin at dinnertime. Choose three to four activities children must follow before they go to bed, including such things as taking a bath or shower, or brushing their teeth. This will help the child develop a routine, which they will follow when they begin heading back to school.
- As a parent, you may want to adjust your own sleep schedule, too. It can be as simple as establishing a pre-sleep routine, going to bed when you’re truly tired and not looking at the clock, among other activities, according to the aforementioned Harvard research.
- Going to sleep on time during the summer can be a difficult task for children. Those problems only grow larger once the school year begins. Parents who want to keep their child more alert, focused and physically healthy during the school year will look to build them a proper sleep schedule ahead of the coming school year.
- Parents will want to help their child turn off any electronics, too. They should avoid all computers within two hours of bedtime, taking away all distractions before they head off to bed.