How to transition your kids back to a school sleep schedule

(WTNH) — Putting kids to sleep gets tougher as they get older, especially when it’s time to head back to school.

Experts recommend elementary school students get ten hours of sleep per night. High schoolers should sleep nine to nine and a half hours per night.

So how do you transition them back to a good sleep schedule?

Related Content: More sleep – better health for middle and high school students

Like most children, 10-year-old Spencer Jorgenson and 7-year-old brother Ty are not happy summer vacation is ending soon.

“It is easy for me to go to sleep, but I don’t like it when my mom wakes me up in the morning,” Spencer said.

Their mom, Katie Jorgenson, is already thinking about what to do with the school year about to start.

“Before, we might think about watching a short TV show as relaxing,” Katie Jorgenson said. “We’re laying on the couch. We’re watching a little TV, then they go to bed. Now, we don’t do that.”

Related Content: CDC: Teens with sleep issues more often take dangerous risks

The Jorgenson family has made changes after hearing Dr. Jennifer Kanaan from the Uconn Health Sleep Disorders Center talk about a recently created sleep program for schools in Newtown.

“It’s becoming very apparent to most medical professionals that good sleep is critical for good health,” said Kanaan. “While you sleep, you consolidate memory. You consolidate learning, and it helps prepare you for the next day. It’s not a form of idleness, so sleep is very active and it’s critical to get a good night sleep.”

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She advises inviting, not demanding sleep, by developing a relaxing routine about an hour before bedtime. That includes switching off electronic devices, and keeping the bedroom cool and comfortable.

For Ty, “Reading books make me tired.”

Once the weekday schedule is set, Doctor Kanaan recommends not going back to that old summer routine of sleeping and getting up late over the weekend.

“It resets your internal clock,” Kanaan said. “So it makes it very challenging to go to bed on Sunday night.”

Related Content: 8 tips to start the school year off strong

How soon should parents start getting kids ready for school?

“If your child is waking up at 12 noon or 1:00 p.m., they probably should start now,” Kanaan said. “Maybe if they are waking up at 9:00 or 10:00 during the weekdays in the summer, its fine to start about a week or two before school.”

It’s especially tough for adolescents to get, and stay, on a sleep schedule. Many have what’s called a “delayed sleep phase”, going to bet late, and waking up early. Lack of sleep could lead to making poor choices, from not doing well in school, to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

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