Back to School Guide: Getting back on a sleep schedule

August 6, 2013 2:35:49 PM PDT
After a long summer off, getting your kids back into a proper sleep routine can be a challenge.

Not getting enough sleep can make it tough for kids to do well in class, and it could cause even bigger problems.

If your kids don't get enough sleep, expect whining and unhappy children in the morning.

"I can't get up, I'm too tired, leave me alone, go away," said Dr. Alan Hilfer, of Maimonides Medical Center. "I don't want to go to school today."

Dr. Hilfer says all kids need nine-plus hours of sleep each night, and if it doesn't happen, fatigue can rob their intellect and even change their personality.

"Not enough sleep definitely makes it harder for kids to concentrate," he said. "And makes it harder for kids to focus. It makes it harder for them to be able to come home and have the energy to do their homework."

And it makes them grumpy! Mother Margie Torres says to lay down the law.

"I have four kids," she said. "And when they were little, that was the bedtime. Eight. That's it."

Other moms chimed in as well.

"I've got them in the habit of reading since they were little, and that's their downtime before they go to bed," one said. "And that's what makes them fall asleep. That's it."

"You've got to start it at least a week before school starts," another added.

Dr. Hilfer agrees that a week is enough time to start moving bedtime back 30 minutes a day to an 8 p.m. lights out. But also make sure TVs, computers, games and cell phones are never in their bedrooms. Then use these words, he says.

"Tell the kids, it's not that they have to go to sleep, it's that they should be in bed," he said. "And so they don't have to go to sleep. They have to go to bed."

Remember, nine hours is the goal.

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