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Back to School Means Back to Bed for OH Kids

August 22, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Children in Ohio are heading back to school, which means it's time for reading, writing, arithmetic - and rest. A good night's sleep is said to equal success in the classroom, and it starts before the first day of school.

Dr. Kevin Smith, a sleep specialist with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, says inadequate sleep can lead to irritability and impaired focus. And, he adds, parents ought not wait wait until the night before school starts to adjust their children's bedtimes.

"The longer you take to do this, the easier it is. I recommend starting a couple weeks before school, but even if you started today, the key is to make the increments as small as you can to make that adjustment easier."

He says elementary school children need up to eleven hours of sleep, while older kids need nine.

According to the doctor, reducing your child's exposure to light will help with the back-to-school sleep transition.

"Light affects our body, our sleep-wake cycles. And exposure to light late in the evening can delay our bodies' ability to fall asleep."

Dr. Smith says your child's sleep environment also plays a role in getting a good night's rest.

"Look at the child's bedroom and see whether it is at a comfortable temperature. Is it dark? Is it quiet? It means really looking at where your child sleeps and talking to your child about that. It's environment that is most conducive to a good night's sleep."

He suggests that parents have kids come inside earlier and decrease their exposure to bright lights and light from the screens of electronics, such as television, cell phone, and the computer, 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH