The new school year is here. Are your children ready to sleep like students again?

Children and tweens need at least nine hours of sleep each night and teenagers need at least eight, according to the National Sleep Foundation. During the summer, it’s natural to be more relaxed about sleep schedules. Failure to return to a routine, however, can hurt your children’s performance in the classroom.

‘A’ for Effort
Get your children on a back-to-school sleep schedule two to three weeks before classes begin. Try these ideas:

  • Have a “tech curfew.” Set a time before bed when your children have to turn off their cell phones and other devices.
  • Set those alarms. “Get them used to waking up earlier,” says James Kemp, MD, a Washington University pediatric pulmonologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “If they will have to get up at 7 a.m. when school begins, they shouldn’t sleep later than 9 a.m. now.”
  • Schedule a reason to get up. Give your children something to do in the morning. Enroll them in day camp or take them on outings with their friends.

“If children have fun plans in the morning, they’re more likely to get out of bed,” says Suzanne Thompson, PhD, a clinical child psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “They may be a little tired at first. But a few days of getting up earlier may help them fall asleep more easily at night.”

Simply Sleepy or Something More?
Sleepiness is common during the first days of a new sleep routine. If your children always seem tired, a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), could be the reason.

“Large tonsils and adenoids can cause OSA in children,” Dr. Kemp says. “OSA may cause them to snore and be sleepy during the day. If you have concerns, consult with your pediatrician. They may refer you to a pediatric otolaryngologist for an evaluation.”

Learn how to help your child get on a healthy sleep routine. Take the Sleep: A to Zzzz presentation at St. Louis Children’s Hospital Speciality Care Center. To register, call 314.454.KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 800.678.KIDS and press “3.”