Nate Perry Elementary » Notes from Dr. Stuck » Sleep Pointers
SLEEP AND SCHOOL: BEDTIME GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS!
Parents often struggle with their children at bedtime. A lack of sleep can be the cause of behavior or attention problems in school. “Without enough sleep, kids are robbing themselves of the ability to concentrate at school,” according to Stanley Coren, sleep specialist and author of “Sleep Thieves.”
School-aged children should get between 9-11 hours of sleep. One reason children may be getting less than the recommended amount of sleep could be due to family schedules. Between after school activities, homework, social commitments, and work schedules kids may be getting to sleep late and have to get up early. Other children may be getting to bed early but are not able to fall asleep. In either case, sleep deprivation can lead to temporary loss in IQ levels, reasoning and memory skills, and even make kids a little hyper says Coren.
Most often with sleep-deprived children come sleep-deprived parents with the need to just GO TO SLEEP! It may be helpful for parents to take a look at what may be causing sleep problems.
Some questions for parents to consider may be:
•Does your child have other problems outside of sleep (such as other health or school problems)?
•Is there a power struggle over who is in charge?
•Is the child’s problem a problem for parents – and how(are bedtime struggles interfering with parent work or other routines)?
•Is there too much (over 10 minutes) or too little (less then 1 minute) parent involvement with bedtime and sleep? (Note: the amount of appropriate time decreases as the child matures.)
In addition to these considerations, some guidelines that may be helpful for increasing sleep quality or time are:
Establish a routine:
Set your child’s bedtime & wake time – have a cut off time for TV, video games, & computer.
Have them perform tasks in a sequence – take a bath, put on pajamas, brush teeth, & go to the bathroom.
Avoid drinks, especially caf-fenated, right before bed.
Give a bedtime prompt:
Remind them 15 minutes before their set bedtime to start their routine
Form good habits:
Encourage physical activity (so that they not only value fitness but are tired at the end of the day)
Foster positive coping:
Reassure nightime fears.
Provide nightlight and/or background noise (fan).
Prepare not to respond:
Set expectations and stick to them – if “one more story” or “five more minutes” works once, children will try it over & over to prolong bedtime
If child leaves their bed, return them with little attention
Give your children praise
It is important to tell and show children what we want them specifically to do. For example, “I really like the way you went upstairs and did your bedtime routine right when I asked you.”
When to get help:
Always keep your child’s safety in mind. Ongoing sleep problems tend to interfere with children’s relationships with family & friends and their school performance. If you experience severe or ongoing bedtime problems with your children, contact your school psychologist, school nurse, or primary healthcare provider for assistance.
This article was adapted with permission from material supplied by
Helping Children at Home and School II, a publication of the National Association of School Psychologist
Nate Perry Elementary’s
School Psychologist is
Counselor is Jessica Kersey
You can reach them at