If you are looking for ways to help your child perform better at school, take a look at their sleep. Researchers have found that getting adequate z’s can have measurable positive effects on focus, behavior, learning and memory – all skills that are vital to school success. (The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends nine to twelve hours per night for children ages 6 to 12, and eight to ten hours per night for teens.)
Here are some ways you can help your child sleep well this school year:
- When shifting from your summer schedule, ensure your child follows a consistent bedtime and wake time every day, and try not to vary it by more than one hour on weekends. His internal clock is a sensitive instrument that functions best with consistency.
- Create a soothing bedtime routine that encourages her to settle down and relax after a long day of school and homework. Have her begin preparing for bed early enough to allow for bathing and dressing, followed by a mellow activity such as reading.
- Encourage your child to wrap up online schoolwork or computer-related tasks, and to put away screen devices, at least one hour before bed. The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping televisions and computers out of children’s bedrooms. Exposure to bright light in the late evening hours can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone the body uses to induce drowsiness.
- Ensure his bedroom windows are covered enough to make the room dark, especially early in the school year when daylight hours are longer.
- Set your thermostat for cooler temps at night – around 65 degrees – to follow her natural drop in body temperature.
- If outside noise is an issue around your home, such as a busy street or frequently loud neighbors, consider putting a fan or white noise machine in your child’s room to mask noise disturbances.
And don’t forget your own sleep needs. A well-rested parent has more energy and bandwidth to be able to support active children, which makes for a better school year for everyone.