How to Tell if Your Child is Getting Enough Sleep
If your child wakes up before the alarm clock (even if you’d prefer they didn’t), it’s a good sign he or she is getting adequate sleep.
Contributor: Sara Lappe, MD
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
If your child wakes up before the alarm clock (even if you’d prefer they didn’t), it’s a good sign he or she is getting adequate sleep. But if you set three alarms and still have to drag your child out of bed in the morning, it’s time to work on sleep habits.
The start of school is a critical time to get kids adjusted to a consistent sleep schedule. Most children become used to staying up a little later and sleeping in more frequently during the summer, but as the school year gets under way, it’s important to move bedtime up and get back into a routine. Inadequate sleep is a frequent problem that worsens as school starts, and it’s a problem that leads to tired kids as well as parents – a very unhealthy combination.
Too little sleep has been associated with behavior issues, including ADHD, hyperactivity and mood swings. Studies have consistently linked even mild sleep deprivation with academic underachievement, concentration difficulties and lower test performance and overall school performance. Poor sleep also is associated with poor eating habits and obesity. School-aged children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night, and many children are getting only 7 to 8 hours per night – sometimes even less.
Many parents are sleep-deprived themselves and think the symptoms of sleep deprivation are completely normal. As a result, they aren’t even aware their children are not getting enough shut-eye.
To determine if your child gets enough sleep, ask yourself these questions:
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then — simply put — your child is not getting enough sleep. Not only will your child’s behavior and mood improve with more sleep, but getting more snooze time will help with performance at school as well.
These eight easy tips will help your child get accustomed to healthy sleep habits:
Even with a good night’s slumber, parents can agree that mornings during the school year can be pretty chaotic. Still, a little pre-planning can help make the early mornings go more smoothly.
A couple days before school starts, run through the morning routine with your children to make sure there’s enough time to get dressed, eat breakfast and get out the door. It’s also extremely helpful the night before to check a few items off your morning to-do list, such as packing lunches, setting out school clothes and making sure backpacks are stocked and ready to go.
When it comes to figuring out a healthy sleep schedule for kids, it’s necessary to note that a significant proportion of children will have difficulty with sleep at some point during their childhood, and to an extent, this is developmentally normal. However, there is a subset of children who have sleep disorders and should seek medical care.
Here are some reasons to take your child to the doctor to discuss sleep concerns:
Parents’ guide to choosing a pediatrician
This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic.