Back-to-school is almost here and it’s 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 some form 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 (3-5 years) should sleep 11-13 hours each night and typically require naps during the day until they are five years old. It is common for preschool children to have difficulty falling asleep and to wake up during the night. The further development of imagination during this time period makes it the peak sleep terror and nightmare phase. Keeping a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine where the child sleeps in the same environment every night is suggested to instill proper sleep habits.

Elementary and Tweens

According to the National Sleep Foundation, children 6-12 years old need about 9-11 hours of sleep a night. However, studies show American children 5-12 years old get 9.5 hours of sleep a night on average. As children age, their sleep requirements change as well. This age group experiences increasing demands on their time from school, sports, and other social activities. Other factors also affect this age group’s sleeping behavior such as increased interest in TV, computers, and caffeine products. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings and behavioral and cognitive problems that impact their ability to learn in school. Encouraging a consistent sleep schedule, minimizing caffeine intake, and keeping TV and computers out of the bedroom are great steps to ensure your school-aged children develop healthy sleeping habits.

Teens

The average American teen under-sleeps over an hour a night, only getting less than 8 hours of the suggested 8-10 . Compounding the sleepiness problem, teens tend to exhibit irregular sleep patterns throughout the week, staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends. Encourage your teen to develop healthy sleep habits that will carry into adulthood. Teen rooms should be “sleep havens,” not hang-outs, and teens should avoid caffeine close to bedtime.

Not getting enough sleep poses serious consequences for teens including:

  • Limiting the ability to learn, listen, concentrate, and solve problems
  • Decreasing the immune system, which leads to increased illness and pimples
  • Increasing the likeliness of aggressive or inappropriate behavior
  • Contributing to the unsafe use of equipment

The National Institute of Health identified adolescents and young adults (age 12-25 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. Discuss with your teen the importance of getting a full night of rest and the potential consequences of engaging in activities while tired. Remind adolescents and teens that no amount of energy drinks or vitamins replaces sleep. Lastly, offer yourself as a resource who can provide rides at a phone calls' notice. Instilling responsible driving habits early on will help your child make positive choices involving distracted, sleepy, or inebriated driving in the future.


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