Summertime can take a toll on a child’s sleep routine. Sleepovers, vacations and fewer responsibilities make it easy for children to get out of a consistent sleep schedule, making the back to school transition that much more difficult.
We sat down with Attending Neurologist and Director of the DENT Sleep Center, Dr. Marc Frost, who explained how to ease your children back into a sleep routine, and why instilling healthy sleep habits in your children now will not only help them this school year, but can benefit them the rest of their lives.
1. What is the recommended amount of sleep for children and young adolescents?
“Depending on age, it could be as much as 8-9 or even 10 hours,” said Dr. Frost. “The best way to know that a child isn’t getting enough sleep is to note signs of tiredness throughout the day.”
Dr. Frost stated that signs of tiredness in children can manifest differently than in adults who will just feel tired and sleep.
“Children may sleep and nap, but may also just be inattentive. Children may even appear to be daydreaming, or show the opposite of what you might expect and be somewhat hyperactive.”
Dr. Frost added that mood and personality changes may also be observed.
2. What are some steps parents can take to get their children back on a regular sleep schedule?
“Taking steps to create a consistent routine should start the week prior to school,” said Dr. Frost. This routine can be created by putting children to bed and waking them up at the time you would normally for school. This will help ease children back into the school sleep routine.
“And as always, no electronics in the bed or bedroom and no caffeine in the evening,” added Dr. Frost.
3. Why is a consistent sleep schedule so important? Is it especially important for school-age children?
“We tend to be creatures of habit, so a regular schedule will promote regular sleep.” said Dr. Frost. “Instilling these habits in your children now will promote lifelong healthy sleep habits that will prevent sleep problems later in life.”
4. Is there evidence to suggest that children who have a consistent sleep schedule perform better in school?
“Tired children are inattentive and potentially hyperactive children,” said Dr. Frost. “This will clearly lead to poorer performance in school.”
Dr. Frost also added that poor sleep can lead to depression and anxiety, which will affect children both at school and at home.
5. How can parents help their children practice healthy sleep habits?
Practicing the habits mentioned above can help children achieve a better quality of sleep, especially with school around the corner.
“Parents also need to try and lead by example by maintaining good habits themselves,” said Dr. Frost.
The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice. Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.