HOUSTON (August 20, 2015)

With a summer full of lazy mornings and relaxed bedtimes quickly coming to a close, it’s time for children to get back in a healthy sleep routine for school. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital seeks to remind parents of the necessary steps to take to have their kids successfully slumbering at an earlier time, and for the right amount of time, in no time.

Parents play a key role in helping children get the sleep that they need, and it is their job to practice a regular sleep routine and enforce bedtimes. One way parents can do this is by recognizing the age-appropriate sleep guidelines. The National Sleep Foundation suggests children ages 3 to 5 get anywhere from 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night, children ages 6 to 12 get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, and children ages 12 to 18 get a solid eight to nine hours of sleep per night. But how many children are actually logging these recommended hours? According to the NSF, only about 20 percent.

“Sadly, due to a number of different reasons, the majority of kids today are not getting the sleep they so desperately need,” said Richard Castriotta, MD, Medical Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and UTHealth Medical School. “We live in an age with a lot of distractions and it’s imperative that parents make sleep a priority for their children. Proper sleep is vital for a developing child because a lack thereof doesn’t just affect his or her concentration and energy level, it can also impact behavior, mood, social skills, self-confidence, language and memory.”

“Sleep deprivation can also cause children to act-out in the classroom in an attempt to remain alert,” said Castriotta. “They don’t realize that, by being disruptive, they are impeding not only their own academic progress and potential but also that of their classmates.”

In order for kids to be successful in school, sleep is an integral piece of the puzzle. Here are some tips from the experts at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to help parents succeed in their mission:

  • Begin an earlier sleep schedule, starting tonight, to help children acclimate before school.
  • Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time during the week, this includes weekends.
  • Establish a routine an hour before bedtime and maintain it every night. Examples include giving a warm bath, dimming the lights 30 minutes before bedtime, reading a book, etc.
  • Refrain from serving chocolate, tea or sodas containing caffeine past 3 p.m.
  • Limit snacks before bedtime.
  • Limit electronic use during the day and especially refrain from using the hour before bedtime. Also, do not leave televisions on while children sleep since the flickering lights can interrupt sleep patterns.
  • If your child has difficulty sleeping, wakes up throughout the night or snores regularly, see a pediatrician since these symptoms can be a sign of sleep apnea.

Sleep is not the only thing required to help ensure a healthy and safe school year for your child. Learn more about Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s back-to-school tips.