Every parent of a toddler knows how important sleep and bedtimes are; even adults get a little cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. But what you may not know is, it is just as important for your student to get enough sleep.
Why Kids Need Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, children aged six to 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep and teens need eight to 10 hours. This becomes more difficult as there is an increased demand on their time from school, sports and other extracurricular and social activities. Plus, students are watching devices and tablets while sipping caffeine, which can all disrupt their sleep. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD and cognitive problems that impact their ability to learn in school. And that’s not all the problems associated with a lack of sleep.
According to Kids Health, over the long term, a person’s growth may be affected by not getting the full amount of sleep because growth hormones are normally released during sleep. If your student consistently gets too little sleep, the growth hormone is suppressed. Studies also show that sleep deprivation is linked to obesity and diabetes. Experts agree that getting enough sleep also will help your student focus better in school and give them more energy and better concentration for sports and other activities.
Tips to Help Your Students Get Sleep
So understanding how important sleep is, how do you make sure your student is getting enough? Here are some tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) – and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – to help parents make a good night’s sleep a priority.
- Make sufficient sleep a family priority. Set a good example for your kids by regularly getting to bed at a normal time.
- Keep to a regular daily routine. Schedules, including when kids wake up, eat, nap and play, help children feel safe and secure. A good bedtime routine, i.e., brush teeth, get pajamas on, read a book, etc., sets the stage for a good night’s sleep.
- Be active during the day. Physical activities and fresh air will help expel extra energy allowing your kids to easily wind down at night.
- Monitor screen time. To prevent sleep disruption, turn off all screens at least 60 minutes before bedtime.
- Create a sleep-supportive bedroom and home environment. Start dimming the lights around the house before bedtime and turn down the thermostat. Have your child remove any toys on their bed so it’s a place to sleep, not play.
- Avoid scheduling nighttime activities. Encourage kids to get their homework done early in the evening, or right after school, and reduce the number of late activities like lessons, appointments and practices to help give students some downtime before sleep.
- Talk to your child’s doctor about sleep. If you notice some common sleep problems with your child, like difficulty falling asleep, awake at night, sleep apnea and so on, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Most sleep problems are easily treated and your doctor may ask you to keep a sleep log or have additional suggestions to improve your child’s sleep habits.