Kids Need Some Zs Before Learning the ABCs

August 03, 2022

back to school sleep, sleeping child

Backpack, notebook, pencils, a good night’s sleep — when getting your kids ready to go back to school, don’t forget to re-establish a good sleep routine.

Sleep is important. In fact, it’s one of the three pillars of health! The others being nutrition and exercise.

3 Tips to Get Kids’ Sleep Back on Track

  1. Anchor a bedtime — 2-3 weeks before school starts, wake up your kids about 15 minutes earlier every couple of days until you reach the desired time. Anchor the wake-up time this way and earlier bedtimes will follow.
  2. Limit screen time before bed — Blue light exposure from electronics can interfere with natural sleep rhythms
  3. Cut back on daytime naps

Why do all this? Because a good night’s sleep helps children do better in school. It gives them:

  • Energy and focus
  • A positive attitude
  • Better memory of what they learned the day before

Many parents have experienced a child’s meltdown when overtired. Children who don’t get enough sleep may be:

  • Irritable
  • Hyperactive (which can be confused with attention deficit disorders)
  • Impulsive
  • Unable to follow instructions 

The Importance of Sleep

Watch tips to help children get a good night's sleep.

How Much Sleep Does a Child Need?

Different ages need different amounts of sleep. For school-age children:

  • Ages 3-5: 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Ages 6-12: 9-12 hours of sleep
  • Ages 13-18: 8-10 hours of sleep

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has a handy calculator for this. Enter age and wake time, and the calculator will show you where bedtime should be.

Sleep aids, like over-the-counter melatonin, are discouraged for most children. A good bedtime routine will help most kids sleep without them. However, if your child is having sleep issues, the Sleep Lab at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital can help!

Read blog: Is Melatonin Safe for Children?

And for more tips on good sleep health, see the parent resources at: