Sleeping Your Way to a Better School Year

Saturday, September 1, 2007

As the long, lazy days of summer come to an end, kids will complain about earlier bedtimes in addition to going back to school. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is urging parents to begin gradually changing kids' sleep patterns and easing them into school year bedtimes.

According to sleep expert and member of the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) Board of Directors Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, heading to bed later and sleeping longer during the summer months are hard habits to break.

"It is best to begin gradually changing sleep patterns ten days to two weeks before the start of school to help reset the biological clock. Even a few days before school starts will help," says Mindell. "Once the school year is underway, avoid allowing late bedtimes on the weekends."

Mindell is quick to point out that it's not just school-aged children who need to keep to regular sleep patterns, but adolescents, too.

"Studies show that sleep is important to health, safety and academic performance no matter what age," she adds.

In addition to shifting from a summer schedule to a school schedule, Mindell suggests instituting a relaxing bedtime routine and establishing a sleep-friendly environment.

"Televisions and video games have no place in the bedroom," says Mindell, "and limit exposure to electronic media within one hour of bedtime. Even caffeine after lunchtime can be too much of a stimulant."

Mindell also advises that parents should be good role models and exhibit positive sleep habits themselves. Finally, parents should talk with teachers about their child's alertness at school.

Mindell can be reached for comment at 610-660-1806, by e-mail at, or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 610-660-1222

Expand this section