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Back-to-School: Sleep Training

Over the last couple of years, WakeMed’s Families First publication has offered lots of great back-to-school tips for parents and kids.  In anticipation of back-to-school, we will share this timeless information with you from sleep training to vaccinations to packing your child’s lunch to how to know when your child really is too sick for school.

 Sleepytime: Are your kids getting enough ZZZZs?

Ever dragged into work after staying up late to finish a project? That’s how a kid feels, too, if he/she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

“Kids who don’t get enough sleep have problems with attention and short-term memory,” said Jerry Bernstein, MD, a pediatrician with Raleigh Pediatrics.

They can be inconsistent in their work and slow to respond, too. Helping your child get a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for them to do well in school and in life.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

How much sleep do school-aged kids need? There is no magical number, but most need around 10 hours each night.

“Parents can usually tell if their child is not getting enough,” said Dr. Bernstein. “If they are cranky, irritable, or even hyper, parents should strive toward helping their child get more sleep each night.”

To do this, Dr. Bernstein recommends that parents:

#1 – Explain how sleep works.

Be sure to stress the importance of going to bed at the same time each night. Try to maintain regular sleep/wake times on the weekend, too, to ward off stressful Monday mornings.

#2 – Establish a bedtime routine.

This will help kids relax and get ready for sleep. Television, a stimulant, should not be a part of the routine.

#3 – Get plenty of exercise.

Just make sure that kids aren’t doing this just before bed.

#4 – Limit caffeinated beverages, especially after 4 p.m.

If possible, eliminate them completely. Not only is the caffeine bad, but the acid and sugar in soda causes tooth decay.

#5 – School-aged children need private time with their parents.

Make a little time just before bedtime to talk about the day and anything that’s on their minds.

4 Fun Sleepytime Facts

On average, how many hours does a new baby sleep each day?

About 20

How many hours should a school-aged kid sleep?

About 10

If your body misses some sleep, does it catch up later?

Usually, yes

Can you store sleep and use it later?

No. it’s better to get a good night’s sleep every night.

Learn more about children’s health care services at WakeMed.