Doctor shares tips on how to get kids sleep back on track for school

(WIVB) – Many parents relax the bedtime routines during the summer and it can be an uphill battle to get kids back on track.

In general, school aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Dr. Katy Stordahl, a physician in the East Tennessee Children’s hospital emergency room says now is the perfect time to begin adjusting children’s bed time routines before they head back to class.

Dr. Stordahl says it is very important for children to get a good night’s sleep. She says they are happier, behave better and do better in school when they sleep well. While parents may use sleep aids, there are no approved sleep aids for children. She says the best way to help children is by changing their behaviors and routines associated with sleep.

During the summer, Dr. Stordahl says children’s circadian rhythms may be out of sync. She recommends setting a bedtime by factoring in how many hours of sleep a child many need and the required wake-up time for school. Then making a gradual shift to that bedtime by making children go to bed 20 or 30 minutes earlier each night until they reach that time. She says if parents desired bedtime is a couple hours earlier than their summer bedtime it can take up to four weeks to reach that goal.

As parents change their child’s bedtime, Dr. Stordahl also recommends adjusting their wake-up time by the same amount as well. If they are going to bed 30 minutes earlier she says get them up 30 minutes earlier.

Keeping a consistent schedule is also important, according to Dr. Stordahl. She says establishing a regular routine encourage good sleep habits and says including a wind-down period and sticking to a regular bed time will promote better sleep.

It can be tempting to let kids stay up late on Friday or Saturday night, but Dr. Stordahl said it’s best to stick to a regular bed time. She says if you let them stay up late, try to keep it to no more than an hour or two past their normal bedtime and allow an hour extra sleep in the morning.

Other tips to aid in a good night’s sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Have a dark, quiet, cool bedroom
  • Avoid screen time before bed
  • Turn off all electronic devices and televisions at least 90 minutes before bedtime

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