SAN ANTONIO — Kids are now back in school, but may be having a tough time getting into that back-to-school sleep routine. Getting enough sleep and the right amount of sleep is tough for adults. It isn't any easier for kids. Having a regular routine is important.
"As we all know, we can't just lay our heads on the pillow and fall asleep right away. I try to teach parents that it's important to start bedtime about an hour before you want your children to fall asleep, and do the same thing every night," said Dr. Dina Tom, who is a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at University Health and UT Health San Antonio.
She says adjusting to a new sleep schedule should be done slowly. Dr. Tom told us, "It's important to move up your kid's sleep time a little bit at a time over about one to two weeks if possible."
According to the CDC, six in 10 middle schoolers do not get enough sleep. Seven in 10 high schoolers aren't hitting their healthy sleep amount either.
How much sleep should kids be getting?
Kids ages 6 to 12 need nine to 12 hours of sleep, but once they hit 13-years-old to 18, it drops to eight to 10 hours.
Dr. Tom added, "I would say if your child is sleeping more than 12 hours a day and they're a teenager, or you have other concerns, that might be a sign that you might need it intervene."
Here are some tips for quality sleep:
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress.
- Avoid too many extracurricular activities to ensure enough rest.
- Limit napping, but if they must nap, make sure it is less than 30 minutes.
- Avoid caffeine, ideally altogether.
- Keep the bedroom dark, as well as nice and cold
- Eliminate noises and keep rooms quiet
- Keep blue light out, such as phone, TVs or computers
Dr. Tom told us, "Those screens act like an artificial sun and they actually keep our own melatonin from rising at night." Melatonin helps people sleep.
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