NewYork-Presbyterian Offers Back to School Tips to Help Kids Stay Rested this Fall

Aug 19, 2016

New York

Upward angle photo entrance to Weill Cornell medical center

A new school year is almost here, and for many children going from the carefree days of summer to the hectic schedules of the fall can be difficult, especially adjusting to a healthy sleep routine.

Dr. Haviva Veler, director of the Pediatric Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health, offers tips to help get kids back on track to receive sufficient rest.

  • Start the back-to-school sleep transition early. Children need to get back to a normal sleep schedule before the first day of school. Start the “early to bed, early to rise” transition by making sure kids get to sleep and wake up at a normal hour a week before school begins. Once a child starts school, it is important for him or her to get a good night’s rest instead of napping during the day.
  • Bring back bedtime routines. Children who have a consistent bedtime routine will usually have better consolidated and a full night’s sleep. Bedtime routines should be short (20-30 min) and involve the same few simple activities every night. Appropriate bedtime is age specific and planned to allow for the age-appropriate hours of sleep at night. Bedrooms should be sleep-conducive, meaning comfortable, cool, dark and quiet.
  • Don’t pull an all-nighter. Many teens think staying up all night to study will make them ready for a big test, but learning requires sleep. Skipping an hour of sleep can cause memory loss and difficulty focusing. Teens also need more sleep than adults – nine hours are recommended.
  • Avoid “social jet lag.” As students get back to a more regimented sleeping schedule in the fall, staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends can make it hard to get back to a normal sleep schedule at the beginning of the school week. Try to avoid late nights on Friday and Saturday and focus on getting to bed at a normal hour on Sunday night. 
  • Shut down the electronics. From tablets and smartphones to televisions and laptops, the number of electronics that fill a household are plentiful. These devices may be used more often in the fall for homework and research, causing an excess of stimulation and delayed sleep. Giving children time to wind down without electronics before bed is important, and turning off devices or dimming light screens can help lessen the effects of electronic blue light, which can suppress melatonin.
  • For parents, power up with power naps. Naps can help increase your energy if you need a midday recharge. These naps should be limited to half an hour so that your mind does not go into a deep sleep and you can wake up refreshed without feeling groggy.
  • Prepare for back to school jitters. Some children experience an increase in worrying or nervousness in the days leading up to the first day of school. Anxiety can often affect sleep initiation; a child may lie awake worrying, tossing and turning. Provide opportunities for your kids to express how they feel about returning to school during the last weeks of summer. Let them know it is normal to be a bit nervous and talk through more significant fears to find an effective way to prepare.


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, focused on providing innovative and compassionate care to patients in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical school partners, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and clinical innovation.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network is comprised of leading hospitals in and around New York and delivers high-quality care to patients throughout the region; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health features the hospital’s ambulatory care network sites and operations, community care initiatives and healthcare quality programs, including NewYork Quality Care, established by NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S. Each year, nearly 29,000 NewYork-Presbyterian professionals deliver exceptional care to more than 2 million patients.

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Maxine Mitchell 212-821-0560