WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- For many children and teens, summer
vacation is synonymous with staying up late and sleeping in. Returning to
an early morning sleep schedule can be challenging, but it is vital to the
health and successful school performance of America's youth. The National
Sleep Foundation (NSF) is calling on parents and students to start
adjusting their sleep schedules now, in order to be well-rested and alert
for the start of the school year.
"Although it's tempting to sleep as late as possible during the
remaining days of summer, it's not necessarily the best strategy for
starting the school year off right," says Richard L. Gelula, NSF's chief
executive officer. "In fact, a lack of sleep seriously affects academic
performance, mood and a teenager's ability to drive safely."
According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2004 and 2006 Sleep in
America polls, children and teens overall do not get enough sleep.
School-aged children get an average of 1.5 hours less than the recommended
10 to 11 hours of sleep per night on school nights, and only 20 percent of
adolescents get the recommended 9 hours of sleep per night on school
nights. In fact, nearly half of all adolescents sleep less than eight hours
on school nights.
"Maintaining a consistent schedule, which provides for plenty of sleep,
will help students adjust to the return of busy school days," says Mary
Carskadon, PhD, director of the E.P. Bradley Hospital Sleep and
Chronobiology Research Lab at Brown University, professor of psychiatry and
human behavior at Brown Medical School. "Irregular sleep patterns
negatively affect students' biological clocks and sleep quality -- which in
turn affects their ability to perform well in school and their moods."
Tips for Getting Your Child's Sleep Schedule Back on Track:
* Several weeks to a month before the start of school, set a limit for
the latest bedtime and wake up time. Then gradually move these times
earlier (about 15 minutes every other day, time permitting) as the
school year starts to approach.
* Soak in summer's last days with early mornings rather than late nights.
Emphasize activity and bright light in the morning: go outside and take
a walk or play with friends, don't sit indoors or in front of the
* Be Consistent! Set and keep a bedtime and wake-up schedule even on
weekends, this will help in the adjustment to an earlier school
A lack of sleep affects all aspects of a child or teen's life:
* Children who get less than eight hours of sleep are more likely than
their peers who get optimal sleep to get lower grades.
* At least once a week, 28 percent of high school students report falling
asleep in school, 22 percent report falling asleep while doing
homework, and 14 percent report arriving late or missing school
entirely because they oversleep.
* 73% of those adolescents who report feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed
also report not getting enough sleep at night and being excessively
sleepy during the day.
* More than half of all adolescents report feeling sleepy during the
* While 35% of middle school students report getting an optimal amount of
sleep on school nights, only 9% of high school students do.
The National Sleep Foundation's 2006 Sleep in America poll also shows
an awareness gap among parents of adolescents. While more than half of
adolescents reported not getting the sleep they need, 90% percent of
parents felt that their adolescent was getting enough sleep. Parents should
know that all children -- even teenagers -- need more sleep than adults.
For younger kids, having bedtime routines such as reading with parents can
result in better and longer sleep. For older kids, having a set bedtime is
associated with an increased likelihood of getting optimal sleep and a
decreased likelihood of feeling too tired or sleepy during the day.
Sleep tips that will help kids start the school year off right:
* Maintain a regular bedtime -- keeping the same sleep schedule makes it
easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
* Establish a sleep routine -- avoid exercising or doing anything too
intellectually stimulating in the last couple of hours before going to
* Create a good sleep environment -- cool, dark, quiet and comfortable.
* Limit caffeine, especially after lunchtime.
* Turn off the TV. Flickering light and distributing content can prevent
good sleep. And, adolescents with four or more such items in their
bedrooms were more likely than their peers to get an insufficient
amount of sleep at night and almost twice as likely to fall asleep in
school and while doing homework.
Tips for Parents:
* Be a good role model and get the recommended amount of sleep each
* Recognize that children -- even teenagers -- need more sleep than
* Talk to your kids about the importance of sleep and make sleep a
priority for the entire family.
* Ask teachers if your child is sleepy or sleeping during class.
* Adolescents with set bedtimes before 10:00 pm are much more likely to
get an optimal amount of sleep than those who don't.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is an independent nonprofit
organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving
greater understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. NSF furthers its
mission through sleep-related education, research, and advocacy
initiatives. NSF's membership includes researchers and clinicians focused
on sleep medicine as well as other professionals in the
health/medical/science fields, individuals, and more than 800 sleep clinics
throughout North America that join the Foundation's Community Sleep
Awareness Partners program. For more information, log onto
http://www.sleepfoundation.org or http://www.sleepforkids.org
SOURCE National Sleep Foundation