Back To School: Regular Sleep Schedules Improve A Child's Health And Classroom Results

August 2, 2011


Parents, summer vacation is coming to an end! Oh no! It's time to dust off those alarm clocks and to hear "five more minutes" when trying to get your kids ready for school.

During the summer kids tend to stay up late, sleep in and take naps during the day. I want to warn you that these erratic summertime sleep patterns can lead to a rough adjustment period when trying to get children back on track to get the right amount of rest that their bodies demand during the school year.

Here are a few helpful suggestions to make things a little easier when getting your kids back on schedule:

Good sleep means less behavior problems. If children continue their relaxed sleep patterns from the summer, parents could potentially see physical, behavioral and emotional effects during the school year. Parents, be sure you start early and promote proper sleeping health. Children aged 5 to 12 years need approxmiately 10 hours of sleep per night while older, high school aged children need about 9 hours.

Get ready for the temper tantrums. Younger kids tend to have the hardest time reacquainting with the bedtime ritual and schedule when transitioning back to school. They may become oppositional during this period, which may temporarily lead to difficult-to-cope-with behavior. To address this, parents should start getting their child back onto a proper sleep schedule now. Try and get your child's schedule back on track while there is still plenty of time. It takes about two weeks to get back into a healthy sleep routine.

Sleep schedule affects health and the classroom. Without the proper sleep regimen, older kids and teens may show signs including fatigue, headaches, altered metabolic rates (leading to summer weight gain), moodiness and decreased ability to focus and pay attention. Be sure that children of all ages start getting back into a healthy sleep schedule early on.

To help you during this difficult transition time, I recommend allowing for some flexibility, especially during times of vacationing, moving nights, sleep overs, etc. Be sure not to take all of the "fun" out of summertime due to very strict sleep schedules. However, these periods should only be occasional. You should clearly explain that these times are temporary. They may even choose to use this sleep time flexibility as a "summertime reward."

How do you get your kids back on a regular sleep schedule?

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