Back-to-school season is almost here and now’s the time to whip that summer sleep schedule back into shape. Getting enough sleep is critical for your child to think clearly, complete complex tasks, and enjoy everyday life. The National Institutes of Health links insufficient sleep with reduced short-term memory and learning ability; negative mood; inconsistent performance; poor productivity; and loss of behavioral control.

Not sure how much sleep your child should get or how to wrangle them to bed on time? Check out our age-appropriate tips below:

Preschoolers

Preschoolers (age 3 to 5 years) should sleep 11 to 13 hours each night and typically require naps during the day. Preschool children commonly have difficulty falling asleep and may wake up during the night. At this age, normal fears intensify and active imaginations persist, making it a peak phase for sleep terrors or nightmares. Instill proper sleep habits and keep the bedtime routine and sleep environment as consistent as possible.

Elementary and Tweens

As children age, their sleep requirements change as well. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children from 6 to 12 years old need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night. At this age, stressors like school, sports, and other social activities are competing for their time. Overexposure to blue light from electronics and unhealthy snacking can also affect sleeping behavior. Poor or inadequate sleep causes mood swings and behavioral or cognitive problems that may impact their ability to learn in school. Supporting a consistent sleep schedule for your child, minimizing their caffeine or sugar intake, and keeping electronics out of the bedroom a few hours before bedtime are great steps to guarantee healthy sleeping habits.

Teens

The average American teen under-sleeps over an hour a night, getting less than the suggested 8 to 10 hours. Teens also tend to exhibit irregular sleep patterns throughout the week, like staying up late or sleeping in on the weekends, compounding the problem. Discuss with your teen the importance of getting a full night of rest and the potential consequences of engaging in activities while tired. Remind them that no amount of energy drinks replace sleep and their bedrooms can be “sleep havens.”

The National Institutes of Health identified adolescents and young adults (age 12 to 25 years) as a population at high-risk for problem sleepiness with particularly serious consequences. The most troubling consequences for this demographic are injuries and deaths related to lapses in attention and delayed responses at critical times, such as driving. Lastly, offer yourself as a resource who can provide rides at a phone call’s notice.

Getting a good night’s rest is important for everyone! Try a few of the above suggestions and see how easier the transition back to school can be.


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