After a summer of staying up late and sleeping in each morning, it is very hard to get your kids to adjust to a more strict sleeping routine.
Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health told The Today Show's Willie Geist and Al Roker that it's very important to get the kids back on track as classes start because a lack of sleep will cause problems with academic performance.
"Kids are more sensitive to sleep loss," Ash said. "They have different physiology."
Adults may ask what's the big deal; why not just put them to bed earlier? Dr. Ash says it's harder for kids to actually go to bed earlier because they have a slower response to normal sleep cues.
Kids actually need more sleep than adults, so it is recommended that they get anywhere from 9-to-10 hours of sleep per night, as compared to between 7-and-8 hours for adults, Dr. Ash said.
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To help kids get back into a normal sleeping routine, Dr. Ash offered these tips:
- Adjust bedtime by 15 minutes per night - This will gradually get them closer to their ideal sleep schedule. Make it a family effort.
- Enforce an electronics curfew - It takes children an hour to wind down for sleep, but most now have smartphones and other gadgets that allow them to text or play games late at night. Try to have them unplug at least an hour before going to bed.
- Apply the 4-7-8 breathing technique - This helps the body relax. Tell your child to breathe in for a count of four, then hold to a count of seven, and release to a count of eight. Repeat four times before going to bed (and do the same in the morning).
- Add fun to bedtime - Read a book and create an environment that kids want to go to at night. Fun touches can include hand-painted light bulbs or glow-in-the-dark paint, which can be used to write secret messages your children will see when the lights go out.
(The Today Show contributed to this report.)