Children and Sleep

Helping Children Get the Rest They Need for School
Ensuring children get enough sleep once school begins will help them focus on their school work and have a healthier, safer, and more productive school year. You can accomplish this with these simple steps

Begin the routine now. Parents should start the school sleep routine at least one to two weeks before opening day by introducing a gradual change in their children’s sleep schedules.

Establish a regular bedtime and wake up time. Parents and children should plan a daily schedule that includes the basic daily sleep requirements for particular age groups. This schedule should be maintained on the weekends, though students can be permitted to sleep in one hour or two on weekend mornings. While individual sleep needs can vary, the amount of sleep suggested by sleep experts for particular age groups is:

  • Elementary school students 10-12 hours/night
  • Pre-teens (middle/junior high school) 9-11 hours/night
  • Teens 8.5-9.5 hours/night
  • Remember to add 10-20 minutes to bedtime for falling asleep.

Create a bedtime routine. The bedtime routine, regardless of a child’s age, should include at least 15-30 minutes of calm, soothing activities. Discourage television, exercise, computer and telephone use, and avoid caffeine (found in beverages, chocolate and other products).

Achieve a balanced schedule. Identify and prioritize activities that allow for downtime and sufficient sleep time.

Be a role model. Parents and guardians can be role models for school aged children by establishing their own regular sleep schedule and a home environment conducive to healthy sleep habits.

Become a sleep advocate. Take steps to encourage:

  • Scheduling of events to help children keep their sleep schedules
  • Appropriate school start times
  • A sleep curriculum in health and biology classes to help students better understand the importance of sleep to their overall health, safety, and quality of their lives.