With Back to School Comes Back to Sleep

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(BPT) - The start of the new school year is the perfect time to renew habits that keep students happy and healthy — including sleep. Unfortunately, many children and teens don't get the amount of sleep they need to thrive at school. One culprit robbing many of their much-needed sleep is right on their phones — a recent survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that 93% of Gen Z said they've lost sleep because they stayed up “past their bedtime” to view or participate in social media.

“Sufficient, healthy sleep is critical for students to excel in schoolwork, sports and extracurricular activities,” said AASM President Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist. “When students get proper sleep, they are more optimistic, feel their best, and are better able to concentrate on their studies, while insufficient sleep can leave students exhausted and unprepared for school, making it harder to learn and pay attention.”

The need for sleep extends even beyond the years in school — a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine discovered that poor sleep habits in adolescence contributed to poor health outcomes in adulthood.

How much sleep do kids really need?

For optimal health the AASM recommends that children 6-12 years old should sleep 9-12 hours on a regular basis, while teenagers 13-18 years of age should obtain 8-10 hours of sleep per night. For help figuring out the best bedtime for any age, use the bedtime calculator at: SleepEducation.org/healthy-sleep/bedtime-calculator.

Tips for helping kids fall and stay asleep at night

The sleep experts at AASM recommend following these practices to help your children (and their parents!) get the sleep they need.

1. Prepare ahead for schedule changes

Gradually shift bedtime and waking times by at least 15 minutes earlier every day until your child is on the right schedule. Aim for your child to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on weekends or during school breaks.

3. Create a cool, quiet sleep environment

Keep the thermostat lower at night, and don't overdo it with the blankets. If it's hard for your child to fall asleep, try a fan or white noise machine to block out intermittent sounds.

4. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine

Find something that helps your child wind down and relax, like taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book or journaling to help them feel ready to go to sleep.

5. Restrict screen time before bed

These tips can help people of any age get to sleep easier:

  • Disconnect from devices and wind down for sleep by turning electronics off at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
  • Leave phones outside of bedrooms to avoid the temptation to use them. Use an alarm clock instead of a phone for waking up in the morning.

Want to learn more about how to help you and your children sleep better at night? Sleep providers from the AASM Public Awareness Advisory Committee will answer questions about establishing healthy student sleep routines for the school year during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) discussion at Reddit.com/r/AMA on Monday, Sept. 12, at 5 p.m. ET.

For more information about Student Sleep Health Week, additional events and tips, visit SleepEducation.org.

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