As the summer season comes to a close, hitting “reset” on routines is the perfect way to prepare students to go back to school. When it comes to sleep, practice certainly makes perfect. According to a recent survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the vast majority (81%) of parents with children under 18 say that their kids keep a consistent bedtime, an essential first step to getting restful and refreshing sleep.
During Sept. 11-15, the AASM is holding the fourth annual Student Sleep Health Week to increase public awareness about the importance of sleep health for students’ success and well-being. Establishing routines to promote a healthy sleep schedule is an essential first step to ensuring students are well-adjusted and prepared for going back to school in the fall.
“Setting a consistent bedtime routine is very important, especially for children, who need more sleep for overall health and wellness,” said Dr. Shalini Paruthi, sleep medicine physician and spokesperson for the AASM. “Making an intentional shift from summertime habits to more regimented school-year habits can be difficult, which is why the AASM recommends starting the transition a couple weeks in advance.”
In addition to making the return to school smoother, setting and sticking to a bedtime routine helps regulate students’ physical and mental health, which is especially important during high-stress periods.
“Students are under a lot of pressure to juggle their academic and personal interests. Making sleep a priority is imperative to supporting their academic and individual growth and success,” Paruthi said.
Finally, the key to ensuring your student is well-rested is determining how much sleep they need based on their age. For example, kids between three and five years need 10-13 hours per 24 hours, including naps. Those between six and 12 years need 9 to 12 hours of sleep overnight, and teenagers (13-18) need eight to 10 hours of sleep overnight. Online tools, like the AASM bedtime calculator, can help parents regulate their children’s overall sleep routines based on their specific needs.
Leading into the fall, here are a few tips from the AASM to make the transition from summer to school a smooth one for the whole family:
- Transition to the new bedtime and wake time by gradually shifting bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night and wake time 15 minutes earlier each morning to get on the right schedule.
- Restrict screen time before bed; turn off electronics at least 30 to 60 minutes before lights out.
- Develop a 15-minute relaxing nightly routine, which may include reading, journaling or taking a warm bath or shower.
- Create a quiet, cool sleep environment.