Monday, August 25, 2014

Back To School

It is back to school time and most parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Kids are anxious and excited; some may be scared of what is to come.  Back to school prep included getting supplies and backpacks, and new school clothes and shoes.  Kids are all ready to go- right?  But, let's not forget another important aspect of school prep- getting back into the school sleep routine.  We all know how we feel when we don't get enough sleep, or don't have a good night's sleep.  We tend to be tired, cranky and have difficulty functioning throughout the day.  Our caffeine consumption increases just to get us through the day.  We need to remember that poor, or lack of, sleep also affects our children and we should be working with our kids to ensure that they get the proper amount of sleep for maximal functioning.  It is our jobs as parents.  

So, how much sleep do our children need?  Research varies, but average amounts recommended are:
For children 3-5 years old- 11-13 hours (including a nap if they are still napping)
For children 5-12 years old- 10-11 hours per night.

It is imperative that children get their sleep in order to function at their highest level throughout the school day.  Lack of quality sleep, or lack of enough sleep, can lead to mood disturbances (we have all been on the receiving end of a temper tantrum from a tired child), behavioral problems, and cognitive problems.  All of these can affect school functioning.

So, what do you do to ensure that your child gets enough sleep?  Here are a few suggestions:
1- Maintain a bed time routine and schedule.  Be consistent with this schedule and bed time.  Most children are aware that they are tired, but don't want to go to bed at bedtime.  They will whine and beg for more time before having to go to bed.  Stand firm and the bedtime schedule will become easier.  Children learn when they are able to budge parents so if you are consistent, eventually your child will realize you mean business and bedtime will become easier.
2- Get their bedroom sleep-ready.  Turn down, or off, the lights.  Shut the blinds and decrease or eliminate noise.
3- Have your child start to calm down at least 45 minutes prior to bedtime.  Taking a child from running outside with friends, to bed, is going to prove to be an impossible task.  Calm your child before attempting bed time.
4- Stop all stimulating toys and activities at least 45 minutes prior to bedtime.  By stimulating I am referring to video games and some tv shows.  Older kids can lie in bed to read for a few minutes prior to falling asleep, if that helps.

Once a bedtime routine is set and your child is getting the sleep he/she needs, you should see a marked improvement in his/her moods, behaviors and in his/her school work.  Give it a try.

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