Greatest challenge for parents is the balance between homework, sports, music and sleep

School time is the time for parents to set their children's sleep clocks.

While all kids need a lot of sleep between 9-11 hours in a 24-hour period, teenagers have a different sleep pattern from that of younger children, according to William Kohler, MD, chair of the Accreditation Committee for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and pediatric sleep specialist. Teens are late to sleep and late to rise an obvious challenge for the school schedule. Children ages 5-12 have sleep patterns that are more conducive to the school schedule early to bed and early to rise.

"It is important for parents to identify the sleep needs of their children especially as they prepare for another school year," says Dr. Kohler. "Getting kids in school sleep mode can take time and sleep needs for teens are different from elementary school children."

"Parents spend so much time and money optimizing their children's success yet the one thing they are not doing is making sure their kids get enough sleep," adds Judith Owens, MD, past chair of the Pediatric Section for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and co-author of "Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends parents take an active role in helping their children adjust to the school schedule. Make the change over a two to three week timeframe. Have children begin to go to bed 30-minutes earlier each week to help their bodies adjust. Below are more age-appropriate tips to practice:

Sleep Tips For Children 5-12

  • A bedtime routine should be very regimented the body likes consistency and the brain does too.
  • A light nighttime snack can be helpful like cheese or milk both contain tryptophan, an amino acid that aids sleep.
  • Avoid excessive drinking before bed so that your child is not tempted to wake up to go to the bathroom.
  • Avoid frightening movies and video games close to bedtime.
  • Let your child have a transitional object to go to sleep with like a doll or stuffed toy his association with this object will aid sleep.
  • Avoid late night activities that can increase your child's adrenalin.
  • Prepare the room for sleep remove or put away toys that are associated with daytime activities, little or no light is ideal and be sure the room is cool and quiet.

Sleep Tips For Teens 13-18

  • Bedtime should be consistent read something 10-15 minutes before bed, or take a bath/shower.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon caffeine is a stimulant that can inhibit a healthy sleep night.
  • Physical activity should be avoided close to bedtime exercise five hours before sleep can be helpful but exercise too close to bedtime can be a stimulant and inhibit a good night's sleep.
  • Avoid stimulating activity like video games, computers and television in the bedroom.

"The greatest challenge for parents is the balance between homework, sports, music and sleep don't over program your kids so that they give up their much needed sleep," adds Dr. Owens.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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