Ask Nurse Patsy

Ask Nurse Patsy – How Do I Transition My Child’s Sleep Schedule from Summer to School?

August 8, 2018

As summer break winds down, parents of school-age kids are beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Back to school preparations include more than just school supply shopping and getting a sports physical. Without a good night of restful sleep, a student may not succeed to their best potential in the classroom or during after-school activities.

The appropriate number of hours of sleep needed per day is longest initially after birth, and then decrease as an infant and child get older. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the following are recommendations for how much sleep a child should receive every 24-hours, including naps.

3-5 years old: 10-13 hours

6-12 years old: 9-12 hours

Teenagers: 8-10 hours

Of course, these guidelines may differ from your child’s needs and should be discussed with their primary care provider.

During the summer, many children or teens indulge in a later bedtime and, thus, a later wake-up time. It is important to begin the transition back to the desired bedtime prior to the night before the first day of school. Starting this process a couple of weeks before school allows you to gradually move the bedtime earlier in 15-30 minute increments to aid in less resistance from the child; however, any amount of transition time leading up to the start of school will be helpful.

Some children have more difficulty falling asleep once in bed than others. One helpful hint includes eliminating screens (i.e., phones, tablets, televisions, etc.) 1-2 hours before bedtime. This is because they emit blue light which can trick the brain into thinking it is still daytime. When the body believes it is still daytime with screen use, it can delay the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles.

During well check-ups or any school readiness appointment, our providers will review sleep patterns and address any concerns the parents or child may have. If you have any questions or concerns regarding sleep, or if poor sleep may be impacting a child negatively in other ways, please contact our office today, and we would be happy to help.

Patsy Giarda is a Board Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Patsy obtained a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Florida State University, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida, with a concentration in Pediatric Primary Care. While working many years in various inpatient pediatric settings, she developed a passion for helping families understand the disease processes going on with their child. She discovered that with knowledge, these families could become empowered to take control of their child’s health management.