A new school year is here! Set up your child for better learning potential, calmer behavior, more focused attention, and fewer sick days–all by making sleep a priority in your home. Here are a few tools to make your child’s school year a success!

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6-12 years old get 9-12 hours of sleep each night. You can help your child consistently get a good night’s rest by:

  • Establishing a set bedtime, prior to 9pm. Our bodies thrive on consistency. Keeping bedtime the same every night, including on weekends, is associated with increased sleep and better mood.
  • Enforcing bedtime. Children with parents who enforced bedtime were 59% more likely to get enough sleep at night, as opposed to families where bedtime was merely “encouraged.” Life is full of enticing distractions. Help your child recognize what their body needs by lovingly and firmly guiding them to bed.
  • Keeping a consistent bedtime routine. Your elementary child may have outgrown the routine you used when he was a toddler, but you can still prime his mind and body for sleep by having a pattern that remains the same every night.
  • Leaving electronics turned off in the hour before bedtime and kept out of the bedroom. There is an undeniable connection between increased screen use before bed and poorer sleep outcomes: greater difficulty falling asleep, later bedtimes, more sleep interruptions, and shorter sleep duration.
  • Having a sleep-inducing environment. Cool, quiet, and dark is the recipe for a good night’s sleep. In addition, take a moment and stand in your child’s room. Does it feel peaceful and relaxing, or is it full of distractions and clutter?
  • Making bedtime pleasant. Try to avoid using your child’s bed as a place for time-outs: you want to maintain a mental association between sleep location and the pleasant feeling of drifting off to sleep. Using language that paints sleep as a lovely, healthy activity–instead of the consequence of a crabby mood–also translates into greater rest for your child.

The benefits of healthy sleep:

  • Children who have had a consistent bedtime score higher in reading, math, and spatial scores at age 7.
  • An appropriate amount of sleep, not surprisingly, means better ability for your child to pay attention in class–even without the use of a fidget spinner!
  • Shifting bedtime one hour earlier for three days in a group of non-clinical 4th and 6th graders resulted in an average increase of 35 minutes more sleep, plus they improved their skills on a test of cognitive performance.
  • Elementary age children who regularly sleep for 9 hours or more each night are significantly less likely to be overweight.

Sleep well, and enjoy a great school year!