EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you haven’t already, the time is now to get your student to start moving toward a regular sleep schedule for the new school year.
The best way to get kids on a good sleeping schedule is to do it incrementally — making bedtime a little bit earlier each night, and setting the alarm for a little bit earlier each morning, until your child is on school time.
“Particularly for kids, the transition back to school can be a stressful time, because kids have essentially been on a permanent weekend during the summer,” said Jared Saletin, a research associate at the sleep research laboratory at Bradley Hospital in Riverside.
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Saletin says younger children need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours.
“It’s just like eating, getting good exercise, that supports pretty much everything our body does. But that’s only one part of a healthy sleep life. The other part of healthy sleep is maintaining a healthy schedule,” he said.
Bedtime needs to stay consistent each day, and sleeping in on the weekends should be avoided — no more than an hour and a half.
“That’s really like flying to a different time zone. Trying to keep your sleep schedule aligned — even if it’s a little bit shorter than you may want — is actually part of sleep health,” Saletin said.
Turning off phones, tablets and TVs is also crucial. The light of a screen can fool the body into thinking it’s not yet nighttime. “That light is almost overriding the natural drive to go to sleep,” Saletin added.
The National Sleep Foundation also advises that children should avoid big meals and caffeine close to bedtime.