Back to School Tips to Help with Your Kids' Sleep

Mornings before school can be tough, especially at the start of the school year as kids adjust to changes in their sleep schedule. Donna Whalen, FNP-C, with Lovelace Medical Group has some tips if your kids are having trouble with healthy sleep habits after summer break: “It is so important to have basic routines for our children, including set bed and wake-up times, limiting electronics near bedtime, and eliminating naps after school.”

She recommends keeping bedrooms quiet, cool, and dark and completely avoiding the TV, phone or tablets at least one hour before bedtime. She says, “this is because exposure to blue light from screens may impact melatonin production and contribute to delayed and poor sleep.” Donna says if your child isn’t asleep within 20 minutes, to try a quiet activity like reading until he or she gets sleepier.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends different quantities of sleep based on your child’s age:

  • Ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours, with naps
  • Ages 6 to 12: 9 to 12 hours
  • Ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours

Donna also encourages families to watch for signs that their child may need to see a sleep specialist. Those include:

  • You spend too much time “helping” your child fall asleep
  • Your child wakes up repeatedly during the night.
  • Your child snores very loudly or struggles to breathe during sleep.
  • Your child’s behavior, mood or school performance changes.
  • Your child who used to stay dry at night begins to wet the bed.

“So many children are sleep deprived due to overscheduling sports and academic commitments,” she says.

Lovelace Medical Group Sleep Medicine offers sleep studies for patients ages 4 and older. Call 505.727.4000 or click here to schedule your appointment.