Easing into Back-to-School Wake-Up Times

As fall school schedules quickly approach, many parents fret over the thought of dragging their children out of bed at early morning hours again. Harneet Walia, M.D., gives tips on how to ease into back-to-school wake-up times.

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CLEVELAND – As fall school schedules approach, many parents fret over the thought of trying to drag their children out of bed at early morning hours again.

According to Harneet Walia, M.D., a sleep expert at Cleveland Clinic, it helps to start easing children into their school wake-up time before the start of the school year.

“Start waking the child 15 minutes earlier, at the same time, start putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier, on a daily basis and then in small increments so that they can get into the school sleep-wake schedule,” said Dr. Walia. 

Dr. Walia said teens tend to have the most difficulty adjusting, because their bodies are wired to a delayed sleep-wake schedule. This means they naturally want to go to bed late and get up late.

But for parents with very young children, adjusting from a day-time nap to a full day of school with no nap can be a challenge too.

Dr. Walia recommends reducing naps for young children ahead of time by small increments and knocking them down to 15 minutes before completely eliminating them.

She said the goal for children of all ages is to get to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep, to avoid sleep deprivation.

“Sleep deprivation can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired concentration, attention deficit, there are also some data to suggest that it can be linked with impaired glucose tolerance and other medical problems,” said Dr. Walia.

For children who are having trouble getting enough quality sleep, Dr. Walia suggests taking a look at their screen-time habits.

“We don’t want exposures to TV, or any kinds of screen, before the bedtime,” said Dr. Walia. “That can interfere with the sleep; the blue light from the screen can interfere with the sleep quality as well.” 

Dr. Walia said a good rule of thumb, for children of all ages, is no screen time within one hour of bedtime.

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