Back to school sleep, scheduling tips

After a summer of sleeping in and lazy mornings, a rude awakening.

Students are getting up before dawn, heading back to class, many of them still hungry for sleep.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatrician and WebMD medical editor Dr Hansa Bhargava says sleep is a huge issue for children.

“And I think that is one of the issue that we miss,” Dr. Bhargava says. “Because we think everyone is getting sleep, but they don't necessarily get enough sleep. For example, for example kids that are 6 to 11 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night.”

High school students really struggle when it comes to getting enough sleep.

Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep a night. One survey found only 8 percent are getting that much.

Scheduling is a major challenge.

“Because they have a lot of homework,” says Bhargava.  “They have a lot of activities. And they're circadian rhythms actually change so they want to go to bed later. And get up later.”

Setting and sticking with a bedtime routine can help.

Bhargava says teens and younger students need a wind-down period before they go to bed, to signal to their brains it's time to sleep.

This should be quiet time, she says.

“The screens are turned off an hour before, maybe they have a bath, and maybe they do reading," she says.”

And, as parents, Bhargava says you have to practice what you preach.

“So, if you're telling your kids to go to bed on time and put those screens away so they can get a good night's sleep, try to do it yourself,” Dr. Bhargava says.

After school, set up a homework schedule and a routine that includes some down time.

Bhargava says she sees a lot of kids, some of them quite young, who are stressed.  She says many are juggling too many activities.

So, she urges parents to try to avoid over-scheduling kids outside of the classroom.

“I think it's really important to be mindful of how much the child can handle,” she says. “You may have a child who can handle 5 activities and still get straight A's.  But you may have a child that can only handle one activity, or no activities. Because they really need that time to decompress.”