By: Jenna Kado, MD,
ProMedica Physicians Pulmonary/Sleep Medicine
As summer break comes to a
close and back-to-school preparation begins, it is vitally
important to help your children get back on a good sleep
schedule. Often, children go to bed later and sleep in during
the summer months, and adjusting to a school schedule can be a
shock to the system. Sleep is clearly linked with better
outcomes such as improved attention, memory and mental and
Here are some actions to
take to ease the back-to-school sleep transition:
Determine hours of sleep needed
The American Academy of
Sleep Medicine recommends that kindergarten through
twelfth-grade students get between nine and 11 hours of sleep.
You can use the academy’s online
sleep calculator to
calculate the hours of sleep needed for your child based on age
and wake time.
Limit caffeine and sugar
Avoiding any caffeine or
sugar after 2 p.m. is best for sleep patterns. Studies have
shown that caffeine intake can make it hard to fall asleep, and
consuming sugar can affect your ability to stay asleep.
Set a consistent schedule
It’s really important to
have a set time to fall asleep as well as a set time to wake up,
based on the amount of sleep needed. Younger children still may
need a nap, but it should be no later than 2 p.m. Middle and
high school students should avoid naps as it will disrupt the
natural sleep drive.
Turn screens off
Blue light from television
screens, phones and computer monitors can interfere with the
production of the hormone melatonin, which is an important
factor in the sleep-wake cycle. If your child is playing video
games or watching TV before bed, it is likely to keep your child
up an extra 30 to 60 minutes. So, be sure to turn off the
screens at least two hours before bedtime.
Use the 15-minute method
It’s best to gradually
adjust to a new sleep cycle over a series of days or weeks.
Slowly move bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every few days until
the ideal number of hours is achieved.
Sleep should not be
underestimated as an integral part of overall health. Start the
school year off right with a great routine!