Back to School: Sleep Habits

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about getting kids ready to go back to school. To perform their best in class, kids need to do their homework, eat a nutritious diet and get a good night’s sleep.

Many children aren’t getting enough sleep to avoid being tired during the day. Kids ages 5 to 12 need about 10 hours of sleep a night, while teens need about 8.5 or nine hours of sleep. Getting to bed earlier at night may help children feel more rested so they’ll do better in school. That may not be easy after a summer of staying up late and sleeping late.

Dr. John Herman, a sleep disorders expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the best way to adjust is to have children get up at the new time. Then they’ll be tired enough to go to sleep earlier. Just making kids go to bed earlier may mean they’ll lie awake. You should start this adjustment at least a few days before school starts. To make bedtime easier, create a bedtime routine with quiet activities like reading instead of watching TV or playing computer games.

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August 2011

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