Counter back-to-school, early-to-bed, early-to-rise blues, with happy tunes

Summer is still in full swing, but school days are creeping closer. One of the most frequent back-to-school challenges is rolling back kids’ bedtime. Children need more sleep than adults, and getting too little produces plenty of problems.

Last year the Denver Post published an article about adjusting bedtimes at the end of summer. They quoted Dr. Peter Franzen, child sleep expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh's Sleep Medicine Institute, as saying that lack of sleep can affect kids' ability to learn, to remember and to handle emotions. Other sources cite being short on sleep as a factor in a number of physical health problems, as well.

A website called Sleep for Kids, providing information for parents and teachers about children’s sleep, and a service the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), reports NSF survey results that suggest little ones often get too little sleep. They report that on average “Preschoolers get 10.4 hours, while it’s recommended that children 3-5 years of age should average 11-13 hours” and that “school-aged children (1st through 5th grades) get 9.5 hours, but experts recommend 10-11 hours.”

An important part of healthy sleep is a steady, consistent bedtime routine. For many children, listening to music can help with the transition from rambunctious to sleepy. We’re not talking about pre-teens and teens listening to hard rock or heavy in their ear buds. Research shows that some music actually detracts from precious sleep time. But the history of lullabyes at bedtime is almost as old as childhood itself. And a few playful tunes, along with the soothing ones, can make it fun. Plus, songs that rhyme, such as those created as companion albums to the Start to Read! storybook series, also help develop language skills.

Begin a brand-new school year on a happy note.