Time to Reset your kid's body clock

August 12, 2008 4:06:52 PM PDT
The carefree days of summer are winding down. Soon kids will be going back to school. They'll be no more late nights, but plenty of early mornings.

"In the morning, it's really rough getting her up," said Pam Knapper of Mt. Airy about waking her granddaughter, sixth-grader India Thompson up for school.

Sleep specialist Dr. Danna Tauber of the Sleep Center for Children said parents should start now shifting kids' sleep schedules.

Here's how it works. The kids will have to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier the first night, and wake up 15 minutes earlier the next day. Each night add another 15 minutes, earlier to bed, earlier to rise, until they're getting up at the time they need to be for school.

They should also avoid caffeine at night, that includes soda and chocolate. Then open their blinds first thing in the morning as they wake. "Get that light in because that helps reset the clock," Dr. Tauber said.

Also she recommends making kids rooms "as boring as possible," so the only thing they have to do is sleep there. That means computers, cell phones and a television should not be kept in their bedroom.

Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep, younger school-aged kids need 10 to 11. Otherwise they'll be sleepy at school and may not do as well as they can. Resetting their body clock will help get them back on track.

"I know it's hard when they say 'oh no' but just stick to it, it'll get easier," said Knapper.

For more tips or to help your child or teenager understand why they should shift back their sleep schedule, visit: www.sleepfoundation.org