Sleep Guidelines for Kids and Teens

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By News Team on August 12, 2021

The new school year is upon us. Are your kids ready to make the transition from the lazy days of summer to the structure and routine of the academic calendar?

We asked our Carilion Children's pediatricians what families should focus on when getting ready for the school year, and they gave us two consistent answers: routines and sleep.

They say that for kids of every age, the right routines are a necessary building block to school success. These back-to-school strategies can help:

  • Organize clothes and sort out what still fits and what needs to be replaced
  • Clear out a quiet, dedicated space for homework and stock it with school supplies
  • Get back into regular dinner and nighttime routines
  • Adjust bedtimes and wake-up times in advance of the start of school

From preschool through college, sleep provides energy, improves mood and helps kids perform better academically. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following sleep hours for kids throughout childhood:

  • Infants (4-12 months) 12 to 16 hours including naps
  • Toddlers (1-2 years) 11 to 14 hours including naps
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years) 10 to 13 hours including naps
  • School-age kids (6-12 years) 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (13-18 years) 8 to 10 hours 

Kids who don't get enough quality sleep have more challenges than just staying awake in school. They can have trouble paying attention, processing information and managing their emotions.

“Not having enough sleep can be very disruptive to students,” said Frank H. Biscardi, M.D., of Carilion Clinic's department of Pulmonology, Critical Care, Sleep and Environmental Medicine. “They need to have a consistent sleep pattern and bedtime routine to thrive during the school day.”

To make the quality of your kids' sleep match the quantity, turn off all screens 30 minutes before bedtime and keep them out of kids' bedrooms.

And make sure you're getting enough quality sleep too! Getting enough sleep should be a family priority, not just something your kids have to do.

By following these tips, their kids and yours will have a great start to a successful school year.

Find more sleep advice at HealthyChildren.org, the American Academy of Pediatrics' family information site.

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