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Publication #FAR0042

Helping Children Get a Good Night's Rest 1

Suzanna Smith2

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Does your school-aged child complain about being sleepy during the day, doze off in class, or yawn a lot? Does he or she go to bed late or have trouble falling asleep? If so, your child may not be getting enough sleep.

Health care providers report that elementary school-aged children need at least 9 hours and recommend 10-11 hours of sleep nightly. Sleep affects children's ability to concentrate and learn, and impacts their overall physical and mental health. In fact, good sleep is just as important as proper nutrition and daily exercise.

A recent study published in the Journal of School Health found that over 60% of students surveyed said they slept too little at least twice a week. They stayed up late when their parents thought they were asleep, and they had trouble falling back asleep after waking up during the night (Armshler & McKenzie 2005).

Parents can help their children get the sleep they need by creating a healthy sleep environment. Set the room temperature so it is comfortable: not too warm and not too cool. In addition, parents can establish a nighttime routine. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it, and make the time right before bed enjoyable and relaxing, such as with a warm bath and a book. Take distractions such as TVs and computers out of the bedroom because these interfere with falling and staying asleep.

Bedtime is important and can be a loving time for families. A calm and caring approach to helping your child get a good night's sleep can give them a great head start to each new day.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). Sleeping: sleep schedules. Retrieved May 23, 2005, from [5/29/12].

Armshler, D. H., & McKenzie, J. F. (2005). Elementary students' sleep habits and teacher observations of sleep-related problems. Journal of School Health, 75(2), 50-61.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Star sleeper. [Delinked October 18, 2012].

Owens, J., Maxim, R., McGuinn, M., Nobile, C., Msall, M., & Alario, A. (1999). Television-viewing habits and sleep disturbance in school children [Electronic version]. Pediatrics, 104(3), e27. Retrieved May 23, 2005, from



This document is FAR0042, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 180 and published February 2008. Revised May 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, and executive producer, Family Album Radio,UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.