KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Summer is winding down and kids will be heading back to school soon.
Many parents relax the bedtime routines during the summer and it can be an uphill battle to get kids back on track. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says it is important for parents to start adjusting their child’s bed time routine in the weeks before they head back to class.
Dr. Katy Stordahl, an emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, said children are happier, behave better and do better in school when they sleep well. She said children need between 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, depending on the age of the child.
Here are a few of Dr. Stordahl’s tips for getting kids back on track:
- Determine your child’s optimal bedtime – A summer of late nights means a child’s circadian rhythm may be out of sync. Now is the perfect time to determine the best bedtime for your child. Consider how many hours of sleep they need, and the required wake up time for school. This will help you determine a target bedtime.
- Gradually shift bedtime – Each week adjust bedtime backwards 20 to 30 mins. until you reach target bedtime. If the desired bedtime is a couple hours earlier than their summer bedtime. It can take 4 weeks to reach that goal).
- Adjust wake-up time – As you change a child’s bedtime, remember to adjust their wake up time by the same amount as well. If they are going to bed 30 minutes earlier, get them up 30 minutes earlier.
- Keep a consistent schedule – Establishing a regular routine encourages good sleep habits. Including a wind down period and sticking to a regular bed time will promote better sleep. It’s best to stick to a regular bed time, even on weekends for kids. But, if you let kids stay up late on a Friday or Saturday night- try to keep it to no more than an hour past normal bedtime and allow an hour extra sleep in the morning.
- Avoid caffeine
- Have a dark, quiet, cool bedroom
- Avoid screen time before bed – Turn off all electronic devices and television screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
While some adults find relief with sleep aids, Dr. Stordahl said there are no approved sleep aids for children. She said adults can help many children just by changing their behaviors and routines associated with sleep.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital does have a Sleep Medicine Center which treats sleep problems specific to children. For more information, visit East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s website.