Helping kids transition back to an earlier sleep schedule

Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 5:45 AM CDT
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Sleep is important, but adolescents need more than the recommended average for of 7-8 hours for adults.One UW Health sleep expert has tips for parents to get their kids and teens back on a school year sleep schedule.

"A child, even an adolescent, doesn't just need 8 hours of sleep... A developing children needs anywhere from 12 to 9 [hours of sleep], so the recommendations for adolescents are still higher than they are for adults," said Dr. Stephanie Jones, UW Health Sleep Clinic expert.

The sleep pattern of staying up late and waking up late during summer vacation is a typical sleep phase and pattern for adolescents to follow, according to Dr. Jones.

"Teens do go through this phase and they seem to function quite well, but I wonder could they function better? ...One of the other things we know about sleep is mood regulation and that is a huge issue for teens," Dr. Jones said.

During developing years, kids and teens need deep, restorative sleep-- something Dr. Jones said research shows you can't "catch up on it during the weekends."

"There are differences in brain structure and function in kids who are steady sleeping as much as they should and then those kids who try to make up on the weekends," Dr. Jones said.

The brain will get the rest it needs, regardless of whether it is during the night. Dr. Jones said this is why some kids nod off in classes.

"Parts of the brain can fall asleep, the parts of the brain that are the most tired. Kids who are not getting sufficient sleep at night are potentially nodding off and missing all kinds of important learning opportunities," Dr. Jones said.

Other tips for parents to help make the sleep-schedule transitions include not letting kids have their smartphones in their bedrooms at night, and downloading a blue-light filter to help kids avoid straining their eyes or activating their brains, which promotes restlessness. Dr. Jones also encourages parents to start waking their kids up at the time they would for school to get their bodies used to it again.

For more information about recommended sleep for toddlers,

, college kids,


Tips to turn off your child's device to promote better sleep,