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Back to School and Early to Bed

Back to School and Early to Bed

Childhood obesityYou and your children have gotten spoiled staying up late during the lazy, playful days of summer, but school and early morning awakenings are fast approaching. Advance preparation helps make the mandatory shift in your daily schedules easier, which is why it’s best to get everyone into a good sleep routine early.

Experts believe most of us are not getting enough sleep. That’s a big problem, because insufficient sleep leads to more frequent mistakes in school and on the job, and makes us cranky and less able to handle stress well. In addition, people who get too little sleep each night are more likely to gain unwanted weight (true for children, too).

How much sleep should we be getting each night?

  • Children under age 5 years= 12 hours
  • Ages 6-12= 10 hours
  • Ages 13-17= 9 hours
  • Adults= 7-9 hours

Here are some helpful hints for ensuring everyone in your family starts the school day refreshed and energized:

  • Have the family go to bed early the week before school starts, just as if the normal school routine were taking place in the morning. Staying up late until the very night before school opens makes it unlikely anyone will be fully awake and alert for the first few days of class.
  • Establish set bedtimes so everyone (including you!) gets the nightly sleep they need in order to be at their best.
      - Once you set a time for the children to be in bed gently but firmly enforce the rules.
      - Be a good role model – staying up late and complaining of being tired all the time sends the message to your children that fatigue is normal – it’s not.
  • Limit high-sugar snacks and caffeinated beverages, especially after 3:00. Since the “need” for caffeine often speaks to a general lack of sleep, better for you to simply go to sleep earlier and skip the caffeine. Keep caffeinated beverages, especially the so-called “energy drinks,” out of your children’s hands altogether - that’s a habit you don’t want to encourage.
  • Continue to exercise regularly, but not late in the day.
  • Turn all electronic gadgets off and the lights down about an hour before bedtime. Exciting video games, TV shows, and loud music don’t set the stage for falling asleep easily.
  • Use the bed for sleeping – that means no television in the bedroom, no paying bills in bed, no laptop work as you’re tucking yourself in, and no cell phones under the kids’ covers.

Helping your overweight childA good resource for helpful information on sleep is the web site of The National Sleep Foundation ( If you or anyone in your family is having trouble getting a good nights’ sleep please talk with your doctor.

Wishing you a great school year and sweet dreams (may they all come true). Be well.

Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **