School is back in session and so are the nightly bedtime battles.
“I think sleep is very important for several reasons and it is important to build consistent sleep patterns throughout the school year to ensure your body and mind is ready to take on the challenges that school and work can bring to us on a daily basis,” said Steve Smallwood, assistant superintendent for student services and support, Elizabethtown Independent Schools.
Sleep, he said, is an important process of development.
“Parents should provide a consistent schedule at home that ensures their children are getting the proper amount of rest to be ready to learn,” he said. “All parents should strive to have set time for bedtime and a set time to wake up and to stick to that schedule as much as possible.”
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, different age groups require different amounts of sleep.
• Infants 4-12-months need 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
• Children 1-2-years need 11-14 hours per 24 hours,
• Children 3-5-years need 10-13 hours per 24 hours.
• Children 6-12-years need 9-12 hours per 24 hours.
• Teenagers 13-18-years need 8-10 hours per 24 hours.
The AASM offers a bedtime calculator on its website to see when a child’s bedtime should be determined by what time they need to wake up in the morning.
The AASM said regular adequate sleep will lead to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life and mental and physical health. If a child doesn’t get enough sleep, the AASM said it could lead to increased injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression.
“The more consistent parents are in securing a bedtime for their children, the more consistent their child will be in waking up and being prepared for school and other activities that require consistent sleep patterns,” Smallwood said. “This will help them not only for school now, but will be a good lifetime habit that will lead to other positive habits for their children.”
Dr. Bethany Haynes, of Hardin Memorial Health Internal Medicine Pediatrics in Radcliff, said adequate sleep is “critical” for school success.
“Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can,” she said. “Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness.”
She offered a few tips on how to help parents create an adequate bedtime schedule for the school year.
• Create a calming routine.
“The calming bedtime routine may involve a bath or shower, reading time, tucking in and saying good-night,” she said.
• Environment is important.
“I encourage parents to turn off electronic devices well before bedtime and try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep,” she said.
Haynes added for best results, bedtime routines also should be maintained over the weekend.
“Sleep is practically as important as food and water especially for children whose minds and bodies are still growing,” said Janay Sutton, director of health and family services, Hardin County Schools. “Sleep is the time when you heal, grow and become restored for your next day’s activities and learning.”
It might be difficult to return to the school year sleep schedule once school begins but Sutton said it’s worth it to maximize learning and performance.
“Beginning the return to this schedule hopefully has happened 10-14 days prior to the start of school,” she said.
She also suggested having a bedtime routine and turning off screen devices.
“Do not even have the child have to make the choice to turn off social media, make that choice for them,” she said. “Be sure the sleep timer is on a television if the child can fall asleep easier with some sound.”
When it’s still daylight at bedtime, she said, parents can close the curtains or place a blanket over the window to darken the room for better sleep.