How to get back to a sleep schedule before school starts
Back to school for New Jersey students in grades K-12 is right around the corner. That means getting back on some sort of sleep schedule.
Jonathan Kass, director of The Sleep Disorders Center at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, suggested that a week before school starts, kids should go to bed an hour earlier than usual.
He said a parent can start the school sleep routine now, adjusting in 30-minute segments, with the schooltime bedtime being the ultimate goal. Be mindful of a teenager's unique body sleep clock. Most teens' biology won't allow them to fall asleep earlier than 10:30 or 11 p.m.
There are also those kids who may get into bed earlier, but simply can't fall asleep right away. Kass said there are some children who can watch television or play on an electronic device and then immediately drop off to sleep. But for those who can't, having an hour of downtime in bed is a good idea. That could be anything from reading, listening to soothing music or playing with a quiet toy.
Eating a big meal before bedtime makes it very difficult to fall sleep, Kass said. Kids should also avoid caffeine at least four to six hours before going to sleep. Caffeine is not just coffee or tea, but also sodas and chocolate. Even decaffeinated coffee has caffeine in it, which some people are susceptible to, Kass said.
Many times during the school year, kids may keep to a sleep routine during the week but continue to stay up late on weekends. Kass said this is a big mistake. He warned that going to bed late on weekends and getting up late can mess up a kid's routine come Monday morning. So to avoid this, he suggested sticking to a regulated sleep schedule even on weekends.
Kass said the more sleep a child gets during the night, the better the child will generally do in school.
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