Focus on wake-up time, not bedtime as kids go back to school

KING 5

When it comes to preparing kids to go back to school, parents are busy buying school supplies and thinking about packing lunches once again.

But what about sleep?

Sleep expert Malia Jacobson says if parents don't begin transitioning their child's sleep schedule before school begins, he or she will likely feel jet lagged when the alarm goes off on the first day.

She recommends parents focus on the wake-up time, not the bedtime.

"When your kid is about a week out from their first day of school, wake them up about 15-20 minutes earlier every morning. It helps program their circadian rhythm because they'll be exposed to light earlier every morning and that will help them to be tired at an appropriate hour," said Jacobson.

Jacobson says trying to adjust bedtime is likely a losing battle.
She says getting your child up earlier in the morning may be inconvenient for some parents, but it's worth it in the end.

"It goes against what we like to do because we do not like to wake our kids up in the morning because they can be grouchy, or we want to take a few extra minutes for ourselves in the morning. But that's what really helps when their head hits the pillow at night," said Jacobson. "They'll be tired for those first couple of days. Make sure they are exposed to some bright light as soon as they get up. First morning, we tend to want to ease them into it. So you want to fling open those curtains and serve them breakfast in the brightest spot in the house."

Jacobson thinks of sleep like nutrition for the brain.  She believes it's important for parents to make sleep a priority for their kids, especially teenagers, many of whom are not getting the recommended nine to 10 hours of sleep.

Chronically tired teens often see behavioral problems, a short attention span and trouble focusing in school.

"And additionally, some mood problems that we attribute to tween moodiness is really just lack of sleep, so supporting their sleep is going to support better mood, better attention and all these things that are going to help them in their days at school," Jacobson said.

© 2017 KING-TV


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