Adjust Your Child’s Sleep Schedule for the New School Year

Ghazala Abuazza, M.D., Pediatrician, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – West Grand Parkway

As we move into August, the start of the new school year may be on your mind. After the lazy days of summer, the morning alarm for school may be a rude awakening. If children are waking up earlier for school, it is important they get the appropriate amount of sleep for their age. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends children 6 – 13 years old sleep 9 – 11 hours a night, and that teenagers 14 – 17 years old should sleep 8 – 10 hours a night.

To help your child stick to a bedtime routine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips:

  • Be a good sleep role model and encourage habits that help promote good sleep.
  • Set a regular bedtime and rise time, including weekends.
  • Dim the lighting in the bedroom. Exposure to room lighting or light from electronics may cause sleep disturbances.
  • Avoid electronics before bed. Consider banning technology use after a certain time or removing the devices from the bedroom before bedtime.

Making sure your child gets the necessary amount of sleep every night is associated with improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

For older children, one of the most important things about creating a bedtime routine is to make sure sleep is not impacted by electronic devices. According to the National Sleep Foundation, blue light exposure within two hours of bedtime can be disruptive to one’s sleep cycle.  And the National Sleep Foundation’s 2022 Sleep in America® Poll, found that 68% of respondents reported staring at screens in the evening, and 58% are looking at screens within an hour before bedtime.

To help reduce night-time device disturbances, try these tips:

  • Keep phones and other handheld devices out of arm’s reach. It may be best to keep/charge devices outside of the bedroom.
  • Silence all notifications, except for morning alarms.
  • Turn the phone screen-side down, so the notification light does not disrupt sleep.

Working with your child to improve sleep habits in advance of the new school year may help make the transition to a regular schedule easier for them and you.