How to Get Your Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule
Pediatricians offer tips on getting into the routine
How is it August already?
Whether you’ve enjoyed your summer with the kids and you’re dreading the first day back or you’re counting down the days (hours), it’s time to start thinking about getting back into that back to school routine.
One of the biggest hang-ups in transitioning from a summer to school routine is getting back on a good sleep scheduled to make sure your child is getting enough.
Here are 4 T’s that should help you get back in the swing of things:
- Think about it now. If your sleep schedule is off, you need a few weeks to get everything back in line. Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Turn back bedtime. Adjust your child’s bedtime back in small blocks leading up to the start of school. If you have 2 weeks and need to adjust back 30 minutes, start bedtime 15 minutes earlier each week.
- Train your child in the routine. Having a consistent routine helps your child be ready for bedtime when the time comes. Take a shower/bath, brush teeth, read…whatever your routine is, start it now to get your child ready for the night before the first day.
- Toss the TV and tablets after dinner. Using screens leading up to bedtime will disrupt your child’s melatonin production and make it hard for them to go to sleep.
Sometimes though, regardless of how hard we try a child can't get back on schedule for health reasons. Lack of sleep can cause problems with a child's health, ability to learn and daily life. That's when we refer the patient to the Cook Children's accredited Sleep Center.
Dr. Shaheed says when it comes time to go back to school, parents should know that it will take time to adjust and it's time to start now.
So when should you be concerned?
Dr. Shaheed says if school-aged children get 10 to 10.5 hours of bed time, but still display sleepiness or if sleep is very disrupted with more than three nights per week of snoring, families should consult with their pediatricians for a possible sleep consultation.
And what's the biggest culprit to a child's sleep right now?
"It can't be stressed enough to to discontinue electronics as much as possible after dinner and certainly one hour before lights out," Dr. Shaheed said. So what are you waiting for? Quit reading this post and get to bed. Well, after you read the important stuff below.
National Sleep Foundation's Sleep Duration Recommendations
|May be appropriate
|Newborns (0-3 months)
|11-13 hours, 18-19 hours
|Less than 11 hours, More than 19 hours
|Infants (4-11 months)
|10-11 hours, 16-18 hours
|Less than 10 hours, More than 18 hours
|Toddlers (1-2 years)
|9-10 hours, 15-16 hours
|Less than 9 hours, More than 16 hours
|Preschoolers (3-5 years)
|8-9 hours, 14 hours
|Less than 8 hours, More than 14 hours
|School-aged children (6-13 years)
|7-8 hours, 12 hours
|Less than 7 hours, More than 12 hours
|Teenagers (14-17 years)
|7 hours, 11 hours
|Less than 7 hours, More than 11 hours
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.