Get your kids ready for school by adjusting their sleep schedules now

Back to School
Posted at 2:30 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 15:30:36-04

Most parents say their kids go to bed later or wake up later during the summer. After all it's tough to sleep when the sun is still shining late in the evening. 

But pediatricians say a good night's sleep can affect a child's development, health, emotion, behavior, basically everything. 

Dr. Rosann Nichols is a pediatrician with Methodist Health System. She says she gets a lot of questions about sleep and kids. She recommends gradually changing your child's bedtime weeks before school starts if possible to get them back on track. 

"Good to determine what time your kids need to wake up, figure out how much sleep they need per night and then set their bedtime accordingly, and usually we'll move that bedtime back 15-30 minutes every few nights starting 2-3 weeks before school starts," Dr. Nichols said. 

How much sleep is recommended?

Dr. Nichols says preschoolers should get 10-13 hours of sleep a night. Early grade school kids need about 9-12 hours a night, and your teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep a night. 

What's not recommended?

It may be tempting to let your children wind down with some TV time at night, but Dr. Nichols says screen time can make it tougher to fall sleep. She recommends no screen time 30-60 minutes before bedtime. That includes phones, tablets and TVs. Dr. Nichols also advises parents to make sure kids don't have those devices in their room overnight. She says checking them or even having them beep or light up can distract children and make their nights less restful.  

Dr. Nichols also recommends a good sleep environment which can be especially important when it's light out or hot out. "Part of creating that good sleep environment when you're getting back to school is getting the windows drawn, keeping the lights down, quiet environment, keep the room cool."

If your kids are getting the recommended amount of sleep overnight but are still overly tired, Dr. Nichols says they could be over scheduled. She says activities and homework can pile up over the school year, but it's important children have some time to relax so they can be most successful. 
If you have more questions about your children and sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers advice and articles at