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Get back in sync for the school year: start early bedtimes now

Sleep experts said when children have to wake up early, it's crucial they also go to bed earlier to make up for the lost time. (FILE)

Students across mid-Missouri will head back to school in mid-August, and that means no more sleeping in during the summer.

Sleep experts said when children have to wake up early, it's crucial they also go to bed earlier to make up for the lost time.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke SSM sleep clinic manager Sara Peters.

She said instead of allowing children to have sleepovers or one last "stay-up-all-night hurrah," parents should start easing their children back into the school-year schedule. "Start now and gradually back up that bed time so that by the time school starts, they are back in that routine and well-rested, so they're starting the school year off right," she said.

Peters said don't put off earlier bed times until the night before school starts. "It's not gonna be a habit for a child to go to bed at 8 or 8:30 when they've been used to going to bed at 10, 11, or midnight," she said.

She said parents can encourage kids to embrace going to sleep earlier by explaining why sleep is important. "When they start feeling better because they don't realize how sleep deprived they are, they have ownership in that and they realize the importance of it as well," she said.

Peters said children don't always show the same symptoms of sleep deprivation as adults. "Yes, they could be tired, grumpy, and groggy," she said. "Or they could be the opposite - hyperactive or not paying attention. Teachers and educators in the class room might see them not be able to sit still. They're often labeled as zoning out, or not paying attention or not caring. Really what's happening is that's just their body's mechanism to try to stay awake, because they're not getting adequate sleep or they're not getting quality sleep."

Peters said a new school year is the perfect time to jump start healthy sleep habits. She suggested starting syncing your children's school-time sleep schedule now; and, if you're worried your child may be sleep deprived, make sure to consult with your child's teachers.

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