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Back to school, back to a proper sleeping schedule – how long do children have to sleep?

Posted August 29, 2018

You know what‘s coming next week? School year is starting again, which is an important change for all the children. Play time is over and it is time to study, improve yourself and get good grades. However, it is also the time when their sleeping schedule gets significantly rearranged. How many hours should children sleep before going to school? And how important is it?

Children are going to have to wake up earlier to make it to school on time. Image credit: Nsyrbus via Wikimedia

Most school children go to sleep and wake up later during summer and we don’t blame them. However, the change to the autumn sleeping patterns may be very stressful if children are not prepared. That is why UBC nursing professor and sleep expert Wendy Hall suggests parents should gradually reintroduce children to the normal sleeping regimes. They should day by day move the bedtime earlier and wake them up in the morning as well. It is important that children readjust themselves smoothly and don’t feel very tired at school. In fact, scientists say that proper sleep may contribute to success at school.

The simple matter of fact is that inadequate sleep negatively affects the attention span. Children, who are lacking sleep, struggle to focus and are slower when tackling more difficult tasks. Furthermore, sleep deprivation has a negative impact on their behaviour as well – they are more likely to take risks and act out. That is why parents should remember that children of different age require different amounts of sleep.

6-12 year olds should sleep at least 9-12 hours per day, including naps. Meanwhile 12-18 year olds need 8-10 hours. But it is not only about the duration – the sleep should be of good quality as well. Children are sleeping less, but they are also sleeping worse. This is due to screen addiction – a lot of children are using smart devices right before sleeping. The blue light disrupts their sleep rhythms, while the information overload can make it more difficult to fall asleep. The best way to avoid such situations, including checking the phone in the middle of the night, is “no screens” rule in the bedroom, but parents should comply to it as well.

Sleep times recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

In fact, parents should serve as an example and go to bed early and get adequate amounts of sleep. They will feel better and children will not feel of a lesser quality because they are going to sleep earlier. Furthermore, bedtime should never be a form of punishment – children should see it as a nice time of rest that adults enjoy.

Proper sleeping habits are difficult to develop, but are definitely necessary. Rested children are more interested in studying, they get better grades, behave nicer and are healthier. But the same could be said about adults as well – take a look at your sleeping hours and think about changing them.


Source: UBC

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