5 ways to get kids on a back-to-school sleep schedule

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A good bedtime routine includes a bath or shower followed by reading.

As children return to school, pediatrician David Bowlin, at Mon Health Wedgewood Primary Care, encourages parents to help their children develop healthy sleep habits.

A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children who sleep the recommended amounts not only perform better in school, they also have a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and behavioral and mood issues.

“Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise, especially for children,” said Dr. Bowlin. “Recent studies also show that children who have adequate amounts of sleep also get sick less.”

Dr. Bowlin suggests the following healthy sleep habits:

  • Look at your child’s room, and ask yourself: Is it calm and relaxing? Your child’s sleep environment plays a role in a child’s ability to fall, and stay, asleep. Children need a comfortable, calming and dark place to sleep.
  • What is the room’s temperature? If a room is too warm, children are more likely to wake up. If it’s too cool, a child may have a difficult time falling back to sleep if he wakes up.  Try to keep the temperature around 68 degrees, which is the optimal sleeping temperature for children and adults.
  • What is your child’s bedtime routine? Just as children need a calm and relaxing room, they also need a calm and relaxing bedtime routine. Limit electronic devices after 6 p.m.  A good routine includes a bath or shower followed by reading and then bedtime.
  • Is your child getting enough sleep? Set a bedtime and stick to it, for your children and yourself. Calculate how much time your child should be sleeping, and try to start the bedtime routine 45 minutes to an hour before the child needs to fall asleep.  Stick to this schedule on the weekends, particularly with younger children.
    • Children 3 to 5 – 10 to 13 hours
    • Children 6 to 13 – 9 to 11 hours
    • Teens – 8 to 10 hours
    • Adults – 7 to 8 hours
  • What is your child eating before bed? Try to limit snacking before bedtime. Snacks or drinks that are high in sugar or carbohydrates may make it more difficult for a child to fall asleep. If your child is having difficulty sleeping, watch his or her diet. Are they drinking soda or tea in the late afternoon or evening? Sometimes a simple diet change or avoiding tea and sugar later in the day can make a big difference.
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