By Cristine Griffing, ATC; reviewed by Deanne Haag, MD

After much needed, unscheduled summer fun, adjusting to a back-to-school schedule can take time and patience (from both parent and child). Parents and experts alike know the importance of a good night’s sleep in relation to a child or teen’s attention span, behavior, memory and overall physical health. Also noteworthy, lack of sleep can foster inactivity, increased risk for injuries and have negative impacts on a child’s emotional wellbeing.

School-aged children and teen sleep recommendations (American Academy of Pediatrics)

  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours, including naps
  • 6-12 years:  9-12 hours
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

A good night’s rest is measured not only by duration, but also quality and regulation- so getting back on a schedule is crucial. Use the following tips to help with this year’s back-to-school transition and head into the school year well rested.

It can take the body over a week to reset after a long summer of late nights and sleeping in. Start now to get them ready for their first day of school wake-up call. NMC Pediatrics physician, Dr. Deanne Haag says,

“Start early- a few weeks before school starts. It is difficult to make the adjustment all at once-so I recommend going to bed 10-15 min earlier and waking up 10-15 min earlier every few days until you reach the desired bedtime and wake-up times. The more off-schedule a person is, the longer it will take to return to the desired times, so start early and stick to it as best you can.”




The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily to promote overall health.

This can include caffeine, screen time and vigorous play. For restful sleep, be sure to limit any caffeine after 4pm- for children this may include soda, or coffee for adults. In addition to limiting screen time in general, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eliminating all screen time at least 30 minutes before bed, including TV, computers and tablets. In addition, to help children wind down, the AAP recommends that vigorous play or exercise be held off in the 3 hours leading to bedtime.

In addition to removing TVs, tablets, and phones from the bedroom, invest in room darkening window treatments and add a sound machine to reduce noise-related waking.

For more information and tips on back-to-school, sleep and overall pediatric health, visit (an American Academy of Pediatrics website)