Tips to reset your child's sleep schedule for school

If you are a parent, you may be glancing at the calendar these days wondering just how you will ever get your school age children back into their regular routine.

Expert suggests there is enough time to get your kids back on schedule

School age kids typically need 9-10 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers require at least nine. (Getty Images/RooM RF)

If you are a parent, you may be glancing at the calendar these days wondering just how you will ever get your school age children back into their regular routine.

You have to set realistic goals.- Dr. Reshma Amin 

The very idea of getting children to bed on time so that they can get up and hit the books the next day may seem like an overwhelming challenge.

"No need to panic," said Dr. Reshma Amin an expert in the field at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "Parents still have plenty of time to get their children and their children's sleep schedules back on track for school."

Reshma offered the following tips on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

  • Talk to your child about any anxiety they might be feeling about the return to school. Easing fear and stress will help your child sleep better.
  • Start adjusting your child's sleep schedule at least two weeks ahead of time. Move bedtime and wake up time by 15 to 20 minutes every couple of days until you reach the desired schedule. 
  • Limit screen time. No digital devices for at least an hour before bedtime. The light can trick your mind into thinking it's time to wake up.

Reshma also told Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski that parents need not worry too much about children who stay up a little too late one or two nights here and there. It's when it happens on a regular basis she said, that the stakes are high.

"Sleep debt and children being sleep deprived is associated with impaired executive functioning, impaired attention, impaired memory, lower academic performance, poor school achievement, increased risk of school dropout."

It can be tougher to get teens back on track

Teenagers, according to Reshma present a real challenge for parents.  As grownup as they might feel, she said teenagers still need at least 9 hours of sleep each night.

Her warning to parents, "you have to set realistic goals."

Here are Reshma's teen-specific tips. 

  • Try to convince your teenagers not to take an afternoon nap. That can quickly throw off their regular sleep schedule.
  • Encourage teens to go to bed and wake up at the same time on the weekends. Sleeping late on the weekend can make it difficult to fall asleep in time come Sunday night. 


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