Get Sleep Savvy

Back to School Tips from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Help Your Child Get Back on Track

During the summer, many children and teens get to stay up later and sleep in longer than they would during the school year. This shift often makes returning to an earlier schedule difficult. 

Getting enough sleep is important to a student's physical health and school performance. 

Children’s is here to help parents get their kids back on track for the school year.

  • How much sleep does a child need?

      According to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children:

      - Younger than 5 need at least 11 hours of sleep.

      - Ages 5 to 10 need at least 10 hours of sleep.

      - Ages 10 and older need at least nine hours of sleep.

  • How do I get a child back on a routine?

      Ease into a modified summer schedule now.
      Two to four weeks before the first day of school, begin shifting the time your child wakes up in the morning and gets in bed at night. Start with the current time the child is waking up and gradually move to about 30 minutes earlier every other day.

      Eliminate nap time.
      In order to get your younger child back into a routine for school, remove naps from his summer schedule. It will help your child be more tired at night, encouraging an earlier bedtime. 

      Play during the day.
      Schedule your child’s physical activity, outdoor play and exposure to bright light for the mornings. Reserve winding-down time for the evening with indoor play, dim light and quiet activities as bedtime nears. Avoid physical activity two to three hours before bedtime. 

      Take time to power off.
      Designate the hour before bed as a no-electronics hour. Light from televisions, computers and back-lit electronics such as tablets, smart phones and video games can cause sleep disturbances, making it difficult to stay and fall asleep. Make sure all electronics are out of your child’s bedroom at least one hour before bed.

      Create a comfortable environment.
      Make sure your child’s bedroom is fit for sleeping. The ideal bedroom is cool, dark, quiet and comfortable. 

      Stick to the routine.
      Once you achieve your goal for the best bedtime and wake-up time for transitioning to school, keep your kids on that schedule. A sleep routine makes it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

      Avoid caffeine.
      To ensure a good night’s rest, kids should avoid caffeine, especially mid-afternoon and later in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases alertness, nervousness and fidgeting. Common sources of caffeine for kids include sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks, specialty coffee drinks and chocolate.

  • How does lack of sleep affect a child?

      Not getting enough sleep makes you more than just tired—it affects your entire body.

      Sleep deprivation causes the body to release a chemical that makes us crave comfort foods that can be full of fat, sugar and sodium. Children who don’t get enough sleep are at greater risk for obesity.

      Children who don’t sleep enough have trouble coping during the day. Well-rested children are able to learn better, feel happier and can stay more active.

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