Open Accessibility Menu

Time to Set Back-to-School Sleep Schedules

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Time to Set Back-to-School Sleep Schedules

With the lazy days of summer winding down, and the start of a new school semester looming large, ATRIO Health Plans has a heads-up for parents: Now’s the time to reinstate back-to-school sleep schedules.

As tempting as it is to let children and teens close out the summer by staying up late and sleeping in, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests that a gradual return to school-sleep schedules – a return that should rollout about two weeks before the fall semester begins – will help youngsters ease back into their pre-summer routines.

The importance of sufficient sleep for school-aged kids can't be overemphasized. Adequate sleep contributes significantly to overall well-being, particularly for children whose minds and bodies are still developing. Additionally, establishing good sleep habits early on can reap healthful benefits later in life. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is associated with several chronic conditions and diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and depression.

Age-appropriate Sleep Guidelines

As a sleep-schedule starting point, consider these age-categorized guidelines from the NSF:

  • 3 to 5 years—10 to 13 hours;
  • 6 to 13 years—9 to 11 hours;
  • 14 to 17 years—8 to 10 hours;
  • 18 years and above—7 to 9 hours.

Tips for Sleeping Success

According to the NSF – for younger kids – the key to maintaining a successful sleep schedule centers on establishing consistent bedtime routines. A typical bedtime routine could include:

  • Have a light snack.
  • Take a bath.
  • Put on pajamas.
  • Brush teeth.
  • Read a story.
  • Make sure bedroom is quiet and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Put child to bed.
  • Say goodnight and leave room.

For older students, the NSF says success stems from setting and sticking to a specific bedtime. The NSF offers these additional sleep-success tips:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This schedule should be followed on weekends as well.
  • Use the bed for sleeping only and not for other activities such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music.
  • Remove TVs, computers, and all other electronic devices from the bedroom.
  • Avoid physical activity close to bedtime.
  • Refrain from consuming large meals before going to sleep.
  • Limit caffeine intake (think sodas) especially after lunch.

A Wake-up Call

Evidence suggests that kids and teens are seriously sleep deprived. A recent NSF survey found that 60% of children under the age of 18 reported being tired during the day, and 15% said they have actually fallen asleep at school. According to another study, only 15% of teens indicated that they sleep eight-and-a-half hours on school nights.

The NSF points out that insufficient sleep negatively impacts numerous aspects of children's and teens' lives:

  • Children who get less than eight hours of sleep are more likely to receive lower grades compared to their peers who get optimal sleep.
  • Nearly 75 percent of those adolescents who report feeling unhappy or depressed, also report not getting enough sleep and being excessively tired during the day.
  • More than half of all adolescents report feeling sleepy during the school day.

Now’s the time to help your kids ring in the new school year wide awake and ready to learn.