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Phasing in bedtimes for back-to-school readiness

Any sleep structure that was embedded in our children during last school year was most likely thrown out the window this summer. Parents are being warned – unless some readjustment starts now, don’t expect your kids to get the proper rest before the first bell rings.

waking up to alarm clock
OSTILL, ThinkStock

School supplies and a few new outfits are usually the top priorities when prepping for back-to-school, and according to a local sleep expert, too many people forget about the importance of gradually returning kids to the normal, and sometimes rigorous, sleep schedule that’s needed five days a week.

“We know that when you do not get enough sleep, it impairs critical thinking,” said Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health. “You’re less likely to remember steps in a sequence. It will impair your memory.”

Many kids in summer mode, especially those on a family trip right now, are staying up past midnight and waking up whenever they’d like. Ash said parents can nudge their children toward normalcy by making bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night.

“The clock in the brain can’t really adjust any faster than that,” Ash added.

There’s still the challenge, however, of getting the kids out of bed in the morning. Ash suggested giving them an actual reason to do so, perhaps by planning early errands or adventures.

It’s recommended that teenagers get 9-10 hours of sleep each night. Kids in elementary school need even more rest.


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