A Good Night’s Sleep: The Most Important School Supply

Friday, September 2, 2011

For kids, the summer months are packed with vacations, camps, week-to-week schedule changes and lots of late nights. It’s no wonder that getting back to the school year routine can be difficult. Returning to regular sleep schedules can be even harder. According to sleep expert and Saint Joseph’s University Professor of Psychology Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., the end of the summer is the time to reset kids’ biological clocks.

“It’s important for children to have a healthy start to their school day and come to classes feeling awake and ready to learn,” she says. “Parents may need to begin their child’s school sleep routine at least one to two weeks before opening day by introducing a gradual change in their child’s sleep schedule, such as going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night.”

Mindell urges parents to build time for sleep into their child’s day. The proper amount of sleep varies according to a child’s age, but she provides the following basic guidelines:

Elementary School Students

10-12 hours/night

Pre-teens (middle/junior high school)

9-11 hours/night


8.5-9.5 hours/night

“Establishing a bedtime routine and following it is key to helping children get enough rest,” Mindell adds. “This means allowing time for children to settle down before bed, usually 15 to 30 minutes of calm, soothing activities. Discourage television, computer and telephone use, and avoid caffeine.”

Media Contact

Mindell can be reached by phone at 610-660-1806, by e-mail at jmindell@sju.edu, or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 610-660-1222.

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