Sleep: The Secret Weapon for School Success: Part 3
By GreatSchool Staff
Seven ways to be your child's sleep advocate
Talk to your child about sleep. Have a conversation with your child about the importance of sleep. "Educate your child about how much sleep he needs and how it will affect his performance," advises Kurcinka. "If he wants to do well in his soccer game, or on a test, make him aware that he will do better if he gets more sleep."
Encourage your child to establish a sleep routine. Encourage your child to stick to a regular sleep schedule. School-age children need an average of 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Insist on a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Have a regular quiet, relaxing bedtime routine such as reading to your child or reading together to help him slow down before going to sleep.
Say no to late-night TV and computer use. Keep the computer and TV out of your child's bedroom. It's a good way to monitor his screen activities and make sure he doesn't stay up past his bedtime. If he insists on watching TV right before bedtime, you can tell him to start getting ready for bed during the commercials and to record "must-see" late-night shows and watch them at another time.
Check in with your child's teacher. Ask your child's teacher if your child is alert or sleepy in class. If he is frequently sleepy in class, that's a sign that you need to help him get more sleep.
The pros and cons of naps. A short nap after school (no more than 30 minutes) may be refreshing, but don't let your school-age child sleep for hours during the day as this will throw off her natural sleep schedule. It may be a stretch to convince your school to provide a time for naps, but it is done in Japan. Schools there encourage "power naps" at lunchtime, when students put their heads down on their desk for 20 to 30 minutes.
Exercise plays a role in keeping a regular sleep schedule. "Exercise is very important, particularly getting outside and getting morning light," says Kurcinka. "But exercise raises the body temperature so it is not a good idea to exercise right before going to sleep. That means it's important to regulate organized soccer and baseball games so they are not scheduled too late into the evening."
Be a role model. Show your child that you make sleep a priority in your own life. Children are more likely to follow your advice if you follow the same rules for yourself.