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Sleep Expert on Preparing Kids for Back-to-School

Health

Woman tucks child into bed | Image by Shutterstock

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While it is still summer, getting kids to bed during daylight can be a struggle, but it can take as much as 12 weeks to move bedtime up or wake up an hour earlier in a healthy way.

Fort Worth’s Dr. Brandy Roane, a sleep expert, spoke with CBSDFW about ways to prepare children and parents for earlier mornings. Starting now is key, said Roane, as our bodies respond to change in increments.


“We can typically accommodate about a 15-minute shift in our circadian clock, meaning a 15-minute shift in our wake time every three days,” she explained.

Gradually adjusting wake times by small increments helps the household work toward early rises without feeling too groggy.

Roane pointed out that light plays a major part in disciplining yourself to go to bed and wake up early. During the summer, the sun stays up longer, so there may not be natural darkness when it is time to turn in. Investing in blackout curtains or a sleeping mask can help create artificial darkness to help children and parents get to sleep quickly.

“The other thing is stimulation, so some of the things that can help parents, as well as kids, is setting an alarm that says, ‘Hey, it’s an hour before our intended bedtime. We’re going to start doing some low-key activities,'” said Roane.

When it comes to the amount of sleep, age does play a role. The younger you are, the more rest you need.

Roane suggested, for example, that a 5-year-old would do well on 12 hours of sleep, a 10-year-old needs 10 hours, a teenager needs nine and a half hours, and an adult can function well on eight hours of sleep nightly.

Getting the proper amount of sleep helps promote academic success for students, and it can help keep kids and parents alike from feeling tired throughout the day.

Roane explained that “sleep is important not only for mood and cognition and attention concentration during the day, but sleep is also important in terms of our memory consolidation and transfers.”

“When we’re in a deep sleep, we transfer information we have gathered in our short-term memory to our long-term memory. When we’re in REM sleep, we then consolidate those memories that help us with storage and retrieval later on,” she added.

Some tips to remember as you prepare to wake up earlier are to put away devices, turn off televisions, and minimize any blue light in the room where you sleep. Instead, Roane advises winding down with a book, a crossword puzzle, or even coloring to start relaxing the body for sleep.    

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