Submitted by Kari Mcdougall, Project Leader, Healthy Schools Program

Going back to school is a good time to help your child get their bedtime routine back on track.

Sleep is important for school because healthy students are better learners. Research shows when children and youth get enough sleep, they do better in school because they can concentrate better, remember things and behave well. 

Sleep is also important for students’ overall physical and mental health. Research shows when children and youth get enough sleep they are better able to make healthy choices, and making healthy choices also contributes to better sleep.

Here are some sleep secrets from the experts in our Healthy School Program to help you set your student up for success for back to school.

How much sleep do students need?

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (ages 5-17 years) recommends:

  • Children aged five to 13 should get nine to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night with consistent sleep and wake-up times
  • Youth aged 14-17 should get 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night with consistent sleep and wake-up times
  • The 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey showed that B.C. students who slept for 8 or more hours were more likely than those who slept less to report positive overall health and mental health.
  • Adjusting to an earlier bedtime is best done gradually, over a two-week period, if possible.

Did you know school surveys show BC children and youth are not getting enough sleep?

  • The 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey reveals the majority of B.C. youth are not getting enough sleep. For example, only 46 per cent of 15 year olds get enough sleep, and only 32 per cent of 17 year olds.
  • The Middle Years Development Instrument asked B.C. students in Grades 4 and 7 “How often do you get a good night’s sleep?” Results show approximately 55 to 67 per cent of Grade 4 students report they get a good night’s sleep five or more times per week. However, this percentage declines to 47 to 63 per cent of students by the time they reach Grade 7.

Tips for healthy sleep habits:

  • Role model healthy sleep habits. Parents and caregivers can role model healthy sleep habits for their children and youth, such as prioritizing healthy sleep, engaging in calming activities and limiting screen time before bed.
  • Limit screen time. Bright lights from screens may interfere with the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle. Set a schedule for use of electronic devices before bed.
  • Daily physical activity. Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, just try to not exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid sugary caffeinated drinks: Make sure your students avoid sugary and caffeine-containing drinks, such as pop, iced tea, energy drinks, coffee or tea or hot chocolate, and limit overall.

Set your child up for success this school year and get them that good night’s sleep they need.

Visit Fraserhealth.ca/childandyouth for more information and advice about keeping a regular sleep schedule, doing relaxing activities before bed, and eating well. 
For more information, visit the Fraser Health School Health website at FraserHealth.ca/SchoolHealth 


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