The new school year is around the corner, and if your kids are like most, they're probably used to staying up and sleeping in later than they would during the school year. In fact, if school were to start tomorrow, they'd probably have a tough time going to bed and waking up in time.
According to Mahaska Health Partnership Sleep Technologist Kai Schwab, BA, RPSGT, it’s important to help your child get his or her sleep schedule back on track before school starts so he or she will be well rested for the first day. “School is hard enough without feeling sleepy,” Schwab said.
“Also, in the long-term, children with chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to have difficulties learning, paying attention and are even more likely to be overweight or to exhibit symptoms of attention deficit disorder.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following are some tips to help your child ease into his or her school-time sleep schedule and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year:
- About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule. Every night, set a slightly earlier bedtime, and every morning, an 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.
Schwab said that 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!
For more information on the MHP Sleep Center or to find out how MHP is making healthcare personal, please call 641-672-3163.