Help kids get right amount of (good) sleep

adorable african american kid sleeping in bed at home

By DR. KATHRYN OSTERMAIER

Texas Children’s Health Plan

After being on a summer schedule, the first few weeks back to school can be tough for kids to get going in the morning. However, it is also the perfect time to reset schedules and create routines.

All children need an adequate amount of sleep to excel at school. Just as getting a good breakfast helps fuel them throughout the day, getting a good night’s rest helps children meet their academic and athletic potential. The exact amount of sleep a child needs varies, but these recommended sleep totals are a good guide for parents to follow:

  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
  • School-aged kids (6-13 years): nine to 11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): eight to 10 hours

Sleep is a restorative activity that helps recharge our bodies and helps us retain what we have learned throughout the day. It is important for both mental and physical development. If children do not get enough sleep, it can negatively affect their overall growth, mood and behavior in school.

Parents can help their children get the sleep they need with these tips:

  • Develop a nightly routine that children equate with winding down and going to sleep, such as taking a bath or reading a book.
  • Create a soothing sleep environment. Try to recreate a cool, dark and calm space in your child’s room for comfortable snoozing. Night lights are okay, but screens should be kept out of the room.
  • Limit the use of electronics that emit blue lights, such as tablets and smartphones. Screens can be stimulating, which can make it harder to sleep. Stop using screens at least one hour before bed and charge electronics in another room.
  • Caffeine can also be a disruptor for falling asleep at night, so keep that in mind if your teen drinks caffeinated beverages.

Dr. Kathryn Ostermaier is medical director, Texas Children’s Health Plan