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Sharp Health News

5 tips to get kids on a sleep schedule

Sept. 3, 2015

Back to school sleep schedules

Come September, the lazy days of summer give way to back-to-school schedules and bustling morning routines. But for many parents, it can be challenging getting kids back on target for an early rise after much of their summer is spent sleeping in.

According to Dr. Victoria Sharma, medical director of the Sharp Grossmont Sleep Disorders Center, kids who sleep in later will likely have the most trouble transitioning to back-to-school schedules. "Age largely determines how much sleep kids need per night. Youngsters between ages 6 and 13 need nine to 11 hours of sleep, while those ages 14 and up should get eight to 10 hours of shut-eye," she says.

For parents of teens, it may be particularly difficult because this group is also biologically wired to stay up later than most adults. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates two-thirds of high school students sleep fewer than eight hours per night during the week.

But regardless of your child's age, if you're a parent who doesn't have their kids back on a sleep schedule yet, there are ways to do so.

To help, Dr. Sharma suggests setting gradually earlier bedtimes and wake-up times a week or two prior to the start of school. It's also important to follow these tips to help your teens and youngsters get a healthy night's sleep:

  • Turn off electronics, such as computers, phones and TVs, about an hour before bed, as well as remove them from the bedroom — these devices interfere with the brain's sleep-promoting substances. Instead, choose a peaceful activity like reading to encourage quiet, wind-down time.
  • Schedule morning activities that kids enjoy as an incentive to get out of bed before noon.
  • Avoid anything caffeinated for at least six hours prior to bedtime, and avoid high-sugar foods or heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Discourage naps because midday sleeping can make it harder to get to bed at night.
  • Try to keep the same bedtime and wake-up schedule during weekends and breaks to help make weekday wake-ups easier.

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