Getting kids back to sleeping on school schedule

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If your kids aren't back in class yet, it won't be long. The question is: Are they ready for those early school bells?

Right now is actually a good time to make sure your kids are ready to go back to keeping earlier hours.

Kids may not get excited be thrilled about the summer-to-school year schedule shift, but it really will help them in the long run.

"Children are resilient, but the truth is, their habits are more ingrained and more important. Structure with kids is more important," says Hurley's Nicole Matthews, Rn.

Restructuring from "carefree summer" to "rigid school" schedules takes a little time- so you shouldn't wait until first-day-of- school eve, Nicole tells me, "A good week in advance- ten days- getting their sleep schedules more regulated would be very helpful to, you know, the whole family trying to get the child up for school."

Pediatric sleep expert, Dr. George Zureikat, says the sooner you can start tapering back that summer bedtime, the more slowly and gently you can ease your child into the change, "Making the bedtime earlier every night, at least a half hour earlier."

As for wake-up time? The relationship to bedtime is critical, especially for kids, who need much more sleep than the average adult. Much more.

"Teenagers, average sleep for them is 8 and a half hours," says Zureikat, of the Mid Michigan Sleep Center, "Early teenagers, like 10-11 years of age, probably 9 to 10 hours is what they really need. And, of course, the younger kids, probably need more."

Key to making that earlier bedtime effective, is making it easier to fall asleep. This means you will probably need to ask your child to make another change- and get off of the screens- TV, tech, etc., at least an hour before shut-eye time.

Dr. Zureikat says the blue light screens emit interferes with the hormones that regulate sleep, "It really does shut the patient's own melatonin, and if you shut their own melatonin, it definitely is going to delay sleep onset."

If your child is struggling to fall or stay asleep, or if they have trouble with daytime sleepiness, despite getting enough shut eye, they could have a sleep disorder. Kids get them too; and a sleep study could make all the difference.

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