Medically reviewed by
Dacelin St Martin, MD
Triple board-certified in Sleep Medicine,
Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics.
A child’s transition to kindergarten marks an important milestone. It can be an exciting and stressful time for children and parents.
However, this can also be an optimal time to start new sleep habits with essential benefits for your soon-to-be kindergartner and are far-reaching enough to take into their adult life.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that kindergarten-aged children get 10-13 hours of sleep throughout the day to help their growing physical and cognitive development, including nighttime sleep and naps.
But a new study shows a strong relationship between 10 hours of continuous nighttime sleep and better academic and cognitive performance, including adjustment to formal schooling.
The more consistently children in this age group slept for ten or more hours per night, the more these markers improved.
If you want to give your child a great start to their academic life and beyond, some small but significant bedtime changes can make the difference.
Starting with the basics
Setting routines such as proper sleep hygiene well before the school year starts is the best-case scenario.
For example, if your child is starting kindergarten this fall, then summer is an ideal time to start, giving your child plenty of time to learn these new, valuable life skills. Good sleep hygiene benefits children and adults and will serve your child well as they grow older.
Begin by creating a routine of going to bed at a time that can meet at least 10 hours of sleep, around 9 pm or earlier.
Next, it is recommended that screen time be limited to 30 minutes before bed at the latest, allowing the mind to begin its important wind-down before bedtime.
Electronics, including TVs and tablets, should be avoided before bed. Tablets emit blue light, which can further impact quality sleep by stimulating the mind and suppressing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Getting involved in your child’s pre-bedtime activities will help change to a more consistent nighttime sleep routine.
Implementing relaxing bedtime techniques, such as taking a bath, reading a book, or talking in a quiet environment, is recommended. This routine will further help ease your child into a more relaxed state, setting the stage for falling asleep quicker and with less resistance.
Fewer Naps, More Sleep
This transitional time is also ideal for reducing afternoon naps in favor of the earlier bedtime routine.
Naps still play an important developmental role for kindergartners. They should not be eliminated altogether but slowly reduced over time, allowing sleep to be consolidated overnight in one continuous time.
Good Sleep is a Healthy Habit
Establishing healthy nighttime habits results in better learning engagement, emotional health, and academic performance, resulting in a better adjustment to the start of school and throughout the school year.
Good sleep hygiene is an excellent habit to learn, and by teaching your children this early, you are setting them up well for future learning and working success.
- Douglas M. Teti, Corey J. Whitesell, Jacqueline A. Mogle, Brian Crosby, Orfeu M. Buxton, Karen L. Bierman, David M. Almeida. Sleep Duration and Kindergarten Adjustment. Pediatrics, 2022; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2021-054362
- Shechter A, Kim EW, St-Onge MP, Westwood AJ. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2018 Jan;96:196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015. Epub 2017 Oct 21. PMID: 29101797; PMCID: PMC5703049.