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Is There An Ideal Bedtime For Kids?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With just one week away from the start of school for most Minnesota students, parents are now adjusting times kids go to sleep.

So, is there an ideal bedtime for kids? Good Question.

"(There's) not a specific ideal bedtime," said Roxanne Prichard, University of St. Thomas neuroscientist and sleep expert. "What you need to do is count backwards from when you need to wake up."

She says the most important thing to consider is the duration of sleep: how much kids need the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommendations by age group.

Over a 24-hour period, teenagers should sleep 8-10 hours. Children 6-12 should sleep between 9 and 12 hours. Children aged 3-5 should sleep 10-13 hours, including naps. One- and 2-year-olds should sleep 11-14 hours, including naps.

For example, if a child has a 7 a.m. bus, that's likely a wake-up time of 6:15 a.m.

"Go back 10 hours and you're around 8 to 8:15," Dr. Prichard said. "But what you'll want to do is remember that you can't just fall asleep, you need to factor in wind-down time, so you'll probably want to get ready for bed around 7:30."

Dr. Prichard says children do have an internal clock, meaning they can be "night owls" or "morning people" partly because of genetics. But parents can set routines and schedules to help their children get enough sleep.

"What we're responsible for is to protect that bedtime," she said.

Consistency and routines are key components to sleep.

"Consistency helps our body wind down for sleep and also wake up so waking up doesn't feel like such an ordeal," Dr. Prichard said.

She also recommends children keep the same bedtimes on Friday and Saturday nights. It can take bodies a full day to shift one hour.

"So, if they stay up two or three hours on the weekend, they aren't adjusted again until Tuesday or Wednesday," Dr. Prichard said.

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