Getting back to the school sleep schedule

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Children and teens need a lot of sleep, and with school starting up, switching from a lax summer schedule can throw any family off.

Ruth Joyce has two children - Brionna who is going into fourth grade and Jayden who is going into second grade. She has already started getting back in the swing of things to wean them off the summer schedule.

"[All summer] they haven't really eaten breakfast; they normally get up for lunch," said Joyce.

School is only a week away for Brionna and Jayden, but like many kids Brionna is not exactly a morning person.

"It's so early," yawned Brionna.

Though it may not be easy at first, a regular schedule is the key.

"Some parents ease up rather than getting kids to bed [around] 9, they're letting them stay up until 10 or 11, and they've actually done studies, the kids who keep the regular sleep times actually score better on exams," explained Boyace Harlan, Sleep Technician at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Harlan says a warm room is not good for sleep, so set the thermostat at a cool temperature. He also suggests distractions be put out of the bedroom, "just make the room for bedtime."

Harlan also says keeping kids active during the day can also help them settle down and sleep better at night.

"A lot of our kids are very sedentary they like to play video games and sit at the TV but get them outside, get them to the park"

A silent room is also not always a good idea.

"Making it too pristine, too quiet can work in the negative so if there's anything out of the ordinary, kids have trouble," said Harlan.

He also suggests waking children up gradually without abrupt changes in light or too much jarring noise.

Brionna described how her mom wakes her up each morning: "She shakes me and sometimes she pulls the covers off me."

Pressing the snooze button is not a bad thing, says Harlan, as long as you plan for the extra time.

Enjoying that extra sleep can be hard for many students. The National Sleep Foundation found school-aged kids get an average of 1.5 hours less than the 10 to 11 hours recommended and only 20 percent of teens get the recommended 9 hours on school nights.

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