Earlier to Bed, Earlier to Rise
07/05/2007
The lazy summer evenings of catching fire flies, riding bikes until the sun goes down and late night slumber parties come to a crashing halt when school begins. To help keep your child from crashing at school, you'll want to work on changing up their nighttime routine before school begins.

“Adjusting your children's sleep schedules should begin a week or two before school starts,” said Jennifer Hudman, M.D., pediatrician on the medical staff at Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital. “This will help your children be better prepared – and more alert – when school starts.”

Lack of sleep seriously affects academic performance and students' moods, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

The foundation's 2004 and 2006 Sleep in America polls revealed that children and teens overall do not get enough sleep. School-aged children get an average of one and a half hours less than the recommended 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night on school nights, and only 20 percent of adolescents get the recommended nine hours of sleep per night on school nights. In fact, nearly half of all adolescents sleep less than eight hours on school nights.

To get your child's sleep schedule back on track, try the following:
  • Several weeks before the start of school, set a limit for the latest bedtime and wake up time. Then, gradually move these times earlier (about 15 minutes, every other day) as the school year starts to approach.
  • Build in quiet time before bedtime; while it may be tempting to head outside to play after dinner, have your children start enjoying some down time before they have to go to sleep.
  • Enjoy summer's last days with early mornings rather than late nights. Emphasize activity and bright light in the morning; go outside and take a walk or play with friends.
  • Make sure your child's room is dark and quiet with a comfortable room temperature.
  • Be consistent. Setting and keeping a bedtime and wake-up schedule even on the weekends will help your child adjust to an earlier school schedule.

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Sources: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute , National Sleep Foundation