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With school about to start, it's time to reset kids' sleep schedule

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Summer is quickly slipping away from local students - in fact, the Bellingham School District heads back to class on Wednesday.

If your kids still have a week or so left before that first bell rings there is still time to reset their sleep schedule.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends starting up to two weeks early if you can. They say the goal is to set an incrementally earlier bedtime each night, and an incrementally earlier wake-up time each morning.

Also be sure your kids are getting the right amount of sleep each night for their age group. The CDC recommends 11 to 12 hours a day for preschool-aged children, school-aged children should clock at least 10 hours and most teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep every day.

Once you’ve set a schedule, the National Sleep Foundation says stick to it. They advise against using the weekends to “catch up on sleep”, it will only make Monday morning more of a struggle.

Another tip is to establish a relaxing nighttime routine. It should include quiet time that allows younger kids to unwind. A bath and story are good for little ones, a nightly reading routine can lull older kids into sleep.

It’s a tall order for most parents, but if you want kids to truly relax at night, the National Sleep Foundation says limit television, video games and devices. They can be over-stimulating and the light emitted from some electronics can disrupt sleep by making the brain too alert at bedtime. Research has shown blue light in particular can delay the release of the hormone melatonin which regulates circadian rhythms.

Diet is also an area to watch out for when trying to reset the sleep cycle. A heavy meal later in the evening can keep a child up. Skip the soda as well, it goes without saying - nighttime is no time for caffeine.

And here’s one more tip from the National Sleep Foundation you may not have thought of: be a good role model. If you establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep, your kids are far more likely to fall in line.

Sweet dreams.

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