Did you know that according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, approximately 15 million American children are affected by inadequate sleep? Without adequate sleep, children are less mentally alert and significantly more inattentive, impulsive, argumentative, hyperactive, prone to accidents and injury, and their school performance suffers.
Even with the best intentions, many parents let their kids’ sleep habits slide during the dog days of summer. With the start of the school year underway, they’re likely asking themselves, “How do I get my kids back into a sleep schedule?”
The Better Sleep Council is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the critical relationship between sleep, good health and quality of life. Terry Cralle, RN, certified clinical sleep expert and Better Sleep Council (BSC) spokesperson, offers tips for parents on how they can get their kids’ sleep schedules back on track early in the start of the new school year and say sayonara to those back-to-school bedtime struggles:
- TV timeout: Consider taking TVs and other electronic devices out of your kids’ bedrooms. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the more TV that children watch in the evening, the less they sleep. Reducing screen time may help promote earlier sleep onset and more quality sleep time.
- Bedtime isn’t “punishment time:” Your child might develop a negative view of sleep, so try not to use bedtime or going to bed as a punishment. Instead, turn it into a peaceful, low-stress time for bonding that you and your kids will look forward to. This could be the perfect time for them to talk about any back-to-school jitters they might have.
- Establish a positive sleep routine: In one large study, children who had no regular bedtime or had a later bedtime scored lower on tests than children with regular bedtimes. Since children thrive on routine, having a pattern before bed will signal to their mind and body that it’s time for sleep. Consider kicking off this routine 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Overscheduling your kids is a no-no: Too many extracurricular activities can leave kids feeling tired and stressed. Prioritize activities that leave sufficient time for sleep, and maintain communication with teachers and coaches so they understand your kids’ schedules, too.
- Maybe it’s time for a new mattress: Children’s growing minds and bodies require a comfortable, supportive sleep surface. Try to avoid old, hand-me-down mattresses and pillows, as they’ve probably lost their comfort or support and could have icky dust mites and allergens. If your child’s mattress is more than 7 years old, consider replacing it.
— Submitted by The Better Sleep Council