September is upon us. For many moms, that means getting back into the routine of lunchbox packing, bus dropoffs/pickups, after school activities, homework and the occasional battle of wills over little Johnny’s choice of mismatched attire.
It is a busy time, indeed. That’s why Dr. Edward Salerno, sleep specialist at Hartford Hospital, says it’s even more important that your tot gets enough sleep. “There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep, especially for school-aged kids. Studies show that those who get enough rest have an easier time concentrating during the day.”
How much sleep is enough? “Ideally, elementary and middle schoolers should get between 10-11 hours every night, while teenagers need 9-10 hours,” he said.
The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips on getting your child on a proper sleep schedule:
- About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule. Every night, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time. Make sure that when school starts, they’ll wake up with the amount of sleep they need for their age-group.
- Maintain a sleep schedule – Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use the weekend to “catch up on sleep.”
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bedtime, start a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
- Limit television, video games, and other electronic distractions before bedtime.
- Avoid big meals close to bedtime – a heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep.
- Avoid caffeine – sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited after noon, and especially at night. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine six hours before bedtime, as the caffeine can interrupt your child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment – dark room, comfortable bed, and a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Electronic distractions like television, computers, or video games should be removed from your child’s room and set up in a different location.
- Be a role model – Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.
- The sooner your child readjusts to a school-time sleep-schedule, the better he or she will feel during those early morning math classes. Feeling fully rested and excited for the day, your child (and you) will have the best year yet!