Aug 21, 2013

Posted by in Sleep Disorders Center | 0 Comments

Back to School; Back to Sleep

back-to-schoolIn general, my kids don’t have a different sleep schedule in the summer. I have to get up and go to work and so does my husband. That means the kids are off to their respective places each day too. But when it comes to weekends, that whole system does not apply. And, as we all know, summers are busy and the weekends in the summer are even busier.

Well, after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in a bit on the weekends, one of the hardest adjustments for kids to make at the start of the school year is getting back to their normal sleeping schedules. I know how important sleep is (I love to sleep!) and want to make sure my kids are starting off the school year right.

Here are some tips I got from our sleep specialists at Pella Regional:

Small children may be giving up their naps for the first time, and older children have very busy schedules with school, sports, jobs and other responsibilities. But both children and parents should be aware of the potential harmful effects of not getting enough sleep—mood swings, poor performance in school and social problems.

Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time appropriate for the child’s age. Try to maintain this schedule on weekends, too, although it’s probably OK if your teenager sleeps one or two extra hours on a weekend morning. While everyone has unique sleep needs, the suggested amount of sleep for children is:

  • Elementary school students—11-12 hours per night
  • Middle or junior high school students—8-10 hours per night
  • High school students—8 hours per night

Sleep and Preschoolers

Preschoolers typically sleep a lot each night and most do not nap after five years of age. Difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. With further development of imagination, preschoolers commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. In addition, sleepwalking and sleep terrors peak during preschool years.

Sleep Tips for Preschoolers

  • Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps.
  • Keep the same sleeping environment every night, in a room that is cool, quiet and dark – and without a TV.

Sleep and School-aged Children

Children aged five still need a lot of sleep at night. At the same time, there is an increasing demand on their time from homework, sports and other extracurricular and social activities. In addition, school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.

Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school.

Sleep Tips for School-aged Children

  • Teach healthy sleep habits.
  • Continue to emphasize need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
  • Make child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.

I’ll need to make special not of the “no TV” suggestion at the end of the evening. We’re pretty scheduled, but we do end many of our evenings in front of the television. I thought it was a relaxing end to the day… whoops. Little did I know that could do more harm instead?!

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