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Back to School: Conquering the bedtime battle

Published: Jul. 28, 2015 at 8:56 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2015 at 7:13 PM CDT
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It's back-to-school time and, for many parents, that means a battle over bedtime.
One of the best things you can do for your kids right now is get them on a sound sleep schedule.

Just ask the Ash family.  Some of their daughter Lilys best excuses go like this, I need a Band-Aid, I'm hungry, and I want to drink some Gatorade."

All summer long, kids seem to find ways to stay up later at night.  1st grader Lily and her brother Lincoln can turn an 8 pm bedtime into an 8:30 bedtime, then 9. 
Before you know it...they’re up late enough to catch the Tonight show, providing their own brand of late-nite hijinx.

Dad Dustin Ash says, “We have a struggle every single night to get them to stay in their rooms.  We've tried many different things, but nothing seems to work."

Mom Monica agrees, but doctors say, it’s good they’re fighting to get their kids in bed.
Dr. Jim Schroeder tells us, kids that age need 10 to 11 hours a night.  If they don't get it, they end up sleep-deprived, heading back to school.

"When you think about areas like attention, our mood, or you think about our ability to remember what's happened or to study for a test,   sleep affects our ability to function much more than we realize," says Schroeder.

Sound-sleep is key and sleep experts say there are a couple of strategies to get your kids back on track.

1. Start early.  Spend 2 to 3 weeks getting to bed early, so the new bedtime becomes habit sooner. It's also a good idea to turn off the electronics an hour before bed, cut the sugar after dinner, set a routine you can follow nightly, keep the room dark, and reserve the bed for sleeping.

And parents, you might like this one. The experts suggest making it a family affair.  Everyone goes to bed earlier, and everyone gets more sleep. 

Dustin and Monica wondered what to do about those late night requests,“They always want something before they go to bed and it's like, should you give them something or should you not?"

Dr. Schroeder says, make drinks and snacks part of that routine you set,  so when it's time for bed - they've already had their chance for one last drink or snack.

And most importantly - once you set a new bedtime plan, do your best to stick with it - getting everyone off to school, alert and ready to learn.

To learn more, head to Dr. Schroeders blog: http://www.stmarys.org/documents/Children/justthinking/More%20to%20Sleep%20-%20full.pdf

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