Back to School Healthy Sleep 101

Elementary School  Students
Junior High/High School Students
  • Get the appropriate amount of sleep for your/your child’s age. Set a bedtime that will allow you/your child to get the needed hours of sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, this means:
    • Children (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours
    • Children (6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
    • Teens (13 to 18 years): 8 to 10 hours per night
  • Keep a consistent bedtime.  Whether your child will be attending school in-person, virtually or in a hybrid schedule, it is important to keep the same, consistent bedtime (including over the weekends), even if their daily start time or schedule changes.  If possible, put this bedtime schedule in place ahead of school beginning to ensure your child is used to their wake and bedtimes before school starts, as it takes time for our brains and bodies to adjust to the new schedule. Advance their sleep schedule 30 minutes to an hour every 1-2 days to adjust their schedule.
  • Make bedtime relaxing. Make your child’s bedroom a quiet, peaceful space for sleeping, and establish a relaxing routine that could include shower/bath, a light snack or story time.
  • Limit activities that will hinder sleep. Turn off screens (TV, tablets, phones) close to bedtime, don’t allow children to consume caffeine late in the day, keep exercise or strenuous activities earlier in the day, and limit drinks close to bed.
  • Make time for exercise or physical activity. Due to the changes in school schedules (such as canceled sports or shortened physical education classes), your child may not get the usual amount of physical activity or exercise. Build into your child’s schedule or encourage time for physical activity.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits. Provide healthy food options for all meals that your child will be eating at home or encourage healthy food choices if your child will be eating at school. If you participate in school lunch programs, check with your school district to see your options to ensure your child continues to have access to nutritious breakfast and lunches.  Don’t eat heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Urge your child to get some sun. Allow time for your child to be exposed to sunlight early in the morning and throughout the day to help regulate their circadian rhythm (internal clock) and have a more stable sleep schedule.
  • Eliminate and reduce stress when possible. This may be a stressful time for children with new, different school settings and the transition from summer to school time and all that comes with it; plan activities or strategies that will help to reduce stress or help your child to transition, such as a designated homework time when you can assist your child.
  • Talk to a medical provider if your child has difficulties getting appropriate sleep. If you notice that your child is consistently having trouble with their sleep, which can range from difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep to excessive daytime sleepiness (such as frequently dozing off in class) to abnormal behaviors during sleep (such as sleep walking) or stopping breathing during sleep, talk to their physician regarding their sleep issues to determine if they may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.        
        Additional Resources for Parents from the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep are available on the AAHS Parents Corner.

        Resources on School Planning are available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
        School Decision-Making Tool for Parents, Caregivers, and Guardians
        Back to School Planning: Checklists to Guide Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers
        Guidance for K-12 School Administrators on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings in Schools