HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Summer break is coming to a close for many students across Horry and Florence counties.
Friday is the start of the final weekend before school starts Monday morning. Experts, however, said it’s not too late to get them back on a normal sleep schedule.
While students enjoy staying up late and sleeping in during summer vacation, that routine can make it difficult to return to a normal sleep schedule when school is back in session.
In the next few days, setting an early alarm will be the new norm for families of students heading back to the classroom. Natasha Mero, a sleep technician at Palmetto Sleep Labs LLC, said sleep plays a vital role in a person’s health and well-being. This is especially true for children and teenagers.
Although it’s recommended for parents to start easing their kids back into a normal sleep routine about a week or two before the start of school, Mero said those who haven’t already started the transition still have time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 60 percent of middle school students and 70 percent of high schoolers do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
That amount varies depending on age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between nine and 11 hours for school-aged children, and between eight and 10 hours for teens.
Sleep experts say a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on not only a child’s health, but also their work in the classroom.
“If they don’t have enough sleep, they may be acting out more to when they come home, getting in more trouble, having more behavioral issues, low grades," said Mero.
Doctors say the long-term effects of a lack of sleep are depression, emotional issues and chronic health problems. That’s why the key is having a routine set in place.
Children should avoid caffeine and eating too close to bedtime. Experts recommend a relaxing bedtime routine to allow them unwind: darken a child’s room, keep noise to a minimum, and do low-key activities like read a book, take a bath, or listen to soothing music.
To avoid distractions, a good idea is to introduce an electronic curfew at least an hour before bedtime.
Experts say repeating this pre-sleep routine every night leading up to the first day of school will help your child's body learn to anticipate sleep time, making it easier for everyone once school starts back.
WMBF News will be hosting a back-to-school special Monday, Aug. 19, starting at 5 a.m.