Back to School Requires Better Sleep

Sleep schedules makes for healthy students

(RxWiki News) Summer vacation for kids usually means late nights and sleeping in; but when it's time for school to start, getting back into a good sleep schedule is vital for health and school performance.

The disrupted sleep schedules of summertime may give children fewer hours of restorative sleep, something that pediatricians say is necessary.

"Get your kids into a solid sleeping schedule."

During the school year, increased demands on student's time from homework, sports and other extracurricular activities can mean that kids aren't getting enough sleep. Add possible caffiene intake from sodas and other drinks, along with television and computer use, and your kids may end up with enough sleep deprivation to cause them to suffer in school.

“From memory to judgment, attention span, emotional stability and even immunity, sleep deprivation negatively affects school-age children,” says Kristin Avis, M.D., assistant professor of pediatricsat the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) guidelines say that for children aged five to 12, 10-11 hours of sleep per night is needed. For adolescents and teens who may be driving, proper sleep could be even more important. Young drivers age 25 or under are involved in more than one-half of fall-asleep crashes, according to according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Avis recommends nine hours of sleep per night for the adolescent and teen age group.

Yet in a poll conducted by the NSF of children under age 18, 60 percent of kids complained of being tired during the day, and 15 percent reported falling asleep at school.

To combat this problem, the NSF recommends starting to establish a healthy sleep schedule before the first school bell of the new year rings, to create a good sleeping routine. NSF also provides the following sleep tips for school-aged children:

  • Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
  • Continue to emphasize need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
  • Make child's bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.

Avis also is further examining what a bad night’s rest can do to a child. Working alongside David Schwebel, Ph.D. and director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, the team is studying sleep deprivation, children’s pedestrian injury and general safety risks, with results expected by late 2011.

Review Date: 
August 15, 2011