Summer is quickly coming to an end, which means that kids across the country will be back in school before they know it. For some children, transitioning from a summer sleep schedule to a school sleep schedule can be challenging, so it's important for parents to be proactive and ensure that their kids are ready to take on the school year with active bodies and clear minds.
According to experts, lack of sleep doesn't just affect children physically; it also has a significant impact on their behavior and mood.
"We really now understand that sleep is absolutely critical for optimal health and for attention and mental health and quality of life as well," Daniel Lewin, a pediatric psychologist and sleep specialist with the Children's National Health System, said in an interview with WTOP.com.
So, what can you do to get your little ones on a healthy school sleep schedule and ready to take on the school year? Try some of these tips:
- Start a couple weeks early. Begin making incremental changes to your children's sleep schedule a few weeks before they return to school. Have them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so that they can adjust to this new schedule.
- Cut out caffeine. Caffeinated beverages such as soda, tea and coffee stimulate the central nervous system, making it difficult for kids to fall asleep. Have your child switch to water or juice instead.
- Encourage healthy breakfasts. According to KidsHealth, “kids and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school, and eat healthier throughout the day.”
- Turn off the electronics before bedtime. Studies have shown that using TVs, smartphones and laptops before bedtime can make it more difficult for people to fall asleep, so consider having your child unplug as bedtime approaches.
By following these tips, you should be able to get your child back on a healthy sleep schedule for the start of the school year. However, if you begin to notice that your little one is having a difficult time sleeping or seems particularly tired during the day, it could be the sign of sleep disorder. As we've reported previously, up to 4% of children have sleep apnea, but fortunately there are plenty of skilled pediatricians who specialize in diagnosing and treating it.