INDIANAPOLIS — As the new school year inches closer in the Hoosier state, many families are also getting back to their routines. Health experts say your child’s sleep routine is one of the most important steps.
IU Health Sleep Medicine Physician Dr. Stephanie Stahl says current guidelines call for kids ages 6 to 13 to be getting roughly 9 to 11 hours asleep on a regular basis. For teens ages 14 to 17 guidelines call for roughly 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
While many parents may think their kids already sleep too much, according to the CDC about 60% of middle schoolers and 70% of high schoolers do not get enough sleep on school nights.
According to Dr. Stahl, even just one night with a lack of sleep can seriously make an impact.
“Insufficient sleep for kids and teens is associated with increased risk of car accidents, sports injuries, poor academic performance, poor regulation of mood, substance abuse, risky behaviors, anxiety and depression, and obesity, so a lot of issues come with not getting enough sleep,” she said.
So how do you ensure your child is getting enough sleep? Dr. Stahl says there are a number of steps.
Stahl says parents much prioritize sleep for not only their children, but for themselves as well. Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. She adds its also important to make sure the bedroom is a space designated for sleep and nothing else. Not a playroom, or study area. She also recommends people not pick up their phone, tablet, or laptop while in bed. The blue light emitted from device screens coupled with the mental stimulation it causes will more often than not keep you awake.
Stahl also recommends establishing a sleep routine leading up to the school year.
“You want to start with a routine then slowly start working towards going to bed a little bit earlier. Then assuming that you’re getting sufficient sleep, start wake up a little bit earlier in 15-minute increments,” she said.
Dr. Stahl says the closer you get to the start of the school year the sooner you should start adjusting kid’s sleep routine.
You can find more information on sleep guidelines and best practices here.