Back to Bedtimes
By Rebecca Mills
One of the biggest concerns most parents and students have when facing a new school year is getting back in a routine that works for the whole family. There have been numerous studies in an attempt to find the perfect routine for school aged children, but it is impossible to set a standard when each family’s day-to-day activities, needs, and schedules vary so widely. Since there is no one-size-fits-all formula, it is of utmost importance when creating a routine that the routine itself is not a stressor.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has formed a consensus statement regarding sleep recommendations by age. Receiving the recommended amount of hours of sleep per day on a regular basis offers improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. On the other hand, regularly receiving more or less than the recommended amount of sleep can lead to many adverse outcomes, including behavior and learning problems, hypertension, increased risk of injury, and mental health problems. Children 3 to 5 years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day, including naps. Children 6 to 12 years old should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day. Teenagers should have 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day. The AASM suggests a standard wake up time of 6:30 A.M.
Creating a calm environment before bedtime will help to induce sleep. The AASM suggests having children take a bath about 45 minutes prior to bedtime to reduce core body temperature and signal to the body it is time to wind down. The AASM also says additional aspects of the routine could include reading stories, singing lullabies, and massages. While each child’s routine should be specific to their family and schedule, setting up a calm and relaxing environment before bed should show improved sleep, behavior, and mood.