One of the Best Ways to Get Ready for the New School Year: Get More Sleep
As families prepare for transitioning from their summer schedules to the ones they maintain throughout the school year, one of the most important ways parents can facilitate a good beginning to the school year is to make sure their children get enough sleep. To promote optimal health and well-being, the American Association of Pediatricians recommends that children who are three to five years old sleep ten to thirteen hours per twenty-four hours, including naps. For children who are six to twelve years old, nine to twelve hours of sleep is needed. And for teenagers, sleeping eight to ten hours is recommended.
Getting this much sleep can be challenging, particularly during the long summer days when children are used to going to bed after it becomes dark. And in the coming weeks when they have to rise early to make it to school on time, it is hard for their circadian rhythms to shift earlier and for them to want to sleep at a reasonable time. But without this adjustment, cognitive and physical abilities may suffer. Without the recommended amount of sleep, students may not be as happy in school and may struggle with their academics. Furthermore, recent studies show a correlation between sleep deprivation and depression, ADHD, and anxiety.
So what can parents do to shift circadian rhythms and
help their children establish healthy sleep habits for the coming school year?
To start, set consistent bedtime routines that are conducive to getting
adequate amounts of sleep. Also, avoid drinks with caffeine and sugary foods
for the three hours prior to bedtime. When it is time to wake up children, be
consistent with morning rituals. And avoid large variations of sleep patterns
on the weekends so the circadian rhythms don’t have to be reestablished every
time Monday rolls around.
While maintaining these routines can be challenging, your child’s teachers will thank you. And school will be much more enjoyable and rewarding for your child, too.
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