Sleep is important, especially for developing brains. 
Credit: Cristina Iranzo

With summer winding down, it’s time to put regular bedtimes back on your radar. Skimping on z’s can affect kids’ immunity, blood pressure, schoolwork, and more. In fact, children in a study at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University in Quebec who regularly got a good night’s sleep performed better in math and languages than those who weren’t as well-rested. How much sleep do they need? Children ages 6 to 13 should get 9 to 11 hours, while teens need 8 to 10. Help your kids with these tips, which just might help you, too.

Transition gradually

Kids going to bed late and waking up late? Two to three weeks before the first day of school, move bedtime up by a half hour, and wake them up 30 minutes earlier, too. Every three days, move up bedtime and waking time by another half hour until you’ve reached your target.

Ditch electronics at night

Kids with phones or tablets in their rooms get less sleep and experience more daytime sleepiness than those who slumber in a tech-free zone, according to a University of California, Berkeley study. On a related note, teens who used a computer for more than four hours after school were three times more likely to clock fewer than five hours of sleep at night.

Keep bedrooms cool

The room temperature most conducive to kids’ sleep is 68°F to 72°F. If they’re too hot, their bodies can become restless which would interfere with their quality of sleep.

Scent the sheets

Wash bedding with a lavender-scented detergent. Several studies say the aroma decreases blood pressure and heart rate. One found that folks who sniff lavender before bed have deeper sleep and more energy in the morning.

Enact a power-down hour

The last 60 minutes before bed, dim the lights and put on soft music to signal that it’s wind-down time. (That means no television or other stimulating electronic devices.) 

Get snoring checked out

If snoring happens regularly, and it appears unrelated to colds or allergies, talk to a pediatrician. Snoring might be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. It can affect kids’ academic performance by worsening their memory and concentration. And the condition can make it more likely that kids will be misdiagnosed with a problem such as ADHD. In fact, studies have shown that children who snore might be more likely to require special-education services.