Getting in the back-to-school sleep routine

Published: Aug. 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM CDT
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The first week of August kick starts the back to school frenzy. It involves school supply shopping, registration and something that should start now: back-to-school sleep schedules.

Sleep Specialist, Dr. Jana Kaimal, with Sleep Disorder Center of LA says there are many downfalls for youngsters that do not readjust their rhythms now.

Sisters Ariel and Kadence Harrington are getting a wake-up call about their summer sleep schedules.

Like most kids during the summer break, bedtime has moved back a couple of hours.  "I would say 12:00-1:00 maybe," said 6th grader, Ariel.

"I sleep late lots of times, because I'm a sleeper like my dad," said Kadence, who will start 2nd grade in two weeks.

That rhythm is about to be rocked as the girls get in back-to-school mode, something that says needs to start now.  "Wake them up at the time that they need to get up and let them go to sleep when they feel sleepy," said Dr. Kaimal.

Dr. Kaimal says only wake-up times can be forced and that earlier mornings will lead to naturally earlier bedtimes.  "Elementary kids need about 10 hours of sleep," he said, "middle school probably eight or nine and in high school they should get hours, but they end up getting about six."

That sleep deprivation can affect more than a mood when school's in session.  "They fall asleep in the first hour of class and they don't pay attention, discipline problems are very common," said Dr. Kaimal.

Even though the Harrington sisters have enjoyed their lax summer schedule, they say routines are not so bad.  "We usually have to get in bed about 9:00 and read some books, then at 9:30 it's lights out," said Ariel.

Those healthy sleep routines spell classroom success.  "If you want your kid to be a good student, have discipline, you need to pay attention to their sleep," said Dr. Kaimal.

Dr. Kaimal is also a big advocate for later school start times.  He says 7:30 a.m. is too early for kids to begin absorbing classroom information. Sunlight, a good breakfast and exercise are the best ways to fully wake up.

Copyright KPLC 2012.  All rights reserved.