Getting enough sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise. Sleep is an incredibly important part of a keeping healthy and performing well in school. Lack of sleep has been connected to greater risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression, hyperactivity, irritability and impulsivity problems with skills (i.e. attention, concentration, memory, problem-solving and decision-making) that are needed for learning.
As summer ends and school begins, it is a perfect time to get a healthy sleep routine established. Good behaviors are best developed in the beginning of a new school year!
Tips for Keeping Healthy Sleep Habits
- Research shows that a consistent bedtime routine is associated with better sleep outcomes. Keeping bedtime consistent is more important than the time you wake up. Therefore, try to go to bed at the same time each night, even on weekends and holidays.
- Decide on an age appropriate bedtime for your child for the school year. If that bedtime is earlier than their summer bedtime, start putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you meet their prescribed bedtime.
- Make sleep a family priority. Communicate the importance of getting enough sleep and make it part of your family lifestyle.
Maintain a Soothing Bedtime Routine:
- Create a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine. Establish time to read a book, tell a bedtime story and taking a warm bath or shower can help kids prepare for bed.
- For young children, it helps to start early with a bedtime routine such as brushing teeth, reading a book and going to bed. Make sure the sleep routines you use can be used anywhere, so you can get your child to sleep at any location.
Limit Screen Time before Bed:
- Turn off the TV and other electronics at least an hour before bed and keep mobile devices outside the bedroom. Studies show that the light of screens can confuse our bodies into thinking it’s still light outside, making it harder to fall asleep.
Create a Good Sleeping Environment:
- Having an environment conducive to sleep makes a huge difference. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature (68–72°F). White noise machines, a fan or an air conditioner can also be effective in creating a consistent and rhythmic sound.
- Children over the age of 2 should be made aware of their bedtime and wake up time. Having a clock allows for a child to have a concrete visual for bedtime and wake up time. This gives children a sense of control over their sleep rules.
- Don’t fill up your child’s bed with toys. Keep the bed as a place to sleep.
Keep an Active Lifestyle:
- Make sure your kids have interesting and varied activities during the day, including physical activity and fresh air.
How Much Sleep Do They Really Need? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends these ranges for how much sleep children should get during a 24-hour period:
Make sure your children understand just how important sleep is!