A blog about sleep? What a snore! But really, the importance of sleep to a healthy body and mind is being touted more and more as new research is developed. Read on to find out why sleep is so vital and how to start a solid sleep regime for children before the new school year starts.

Why sleep is important for kids?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents “who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.”

And the Sleep Foundation reports that sleep is crucial for the development of young minds, stating: “In addition to having a direct effect on happiness, research shows that sleep impacts alertness and attention, cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, vocabulary acquisition and learning memory.”

Multiple health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Academy of Pediatrics even consider chronic sleep in adolescents to be a “public health problem” and a “risk factor for substance abuse and mental health problems as well as more immediate problems such as car crashes and sports injuries.”

Kids Sleep Routines

The foundation of a good night’s rest should begin at an early age with a sleep schedule for little ones. As children grow and their schedules change, they may not be able to maintain an exact schedule but it’s important to try to stick to one as much as possible and to be consistent about the number of hours they sleep each night.

  • For example, going to bed at a similar hour each night and waking up around the same time each morning is preferred.

While school aged children and especially teenagers, who have a later circadian rhythm, may not require a typical bedtime routine as toddlers might, it’s still important to establish some habits that can help them wind down, relax and set them up for a good night of restful sleep. 

Screen Time and Sleep

Try to limit screen time and light at least an hour before it’s time for bed. This is a good time to encourage reading or another soothing activity that doesn’t require tablets, televisions or smartphones. Encourage them to get comfortable in their favorite pajamas, sip some warm tea, and then do their pre-bed hygiene such as bathing or showering, washing their face, combing their hair and brushing their teeth. 

While every individual can run on varying amount of sleep, the CDC recommends about nine to 12 hours for children between the ages of six and 12 and eight to 10 hours for children 13 to 18 years old.

Apex Leadership Co. encourages parents and guardians to help set their children up for a successful school year by implementing a solid sleep schedule prior to the first day of school. This may mean waking up early on those last precious summer days before school begins, but it will be worth it for their minds, bodies, and overall wellbeing.