Your child probably isn't getting the sleep she needs

Posted at 4:30 AM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 07:27:13-04

The most important school supplies don't cost a thing and can't be forgotten on the bus, but many students will still head into 2018-'19 new school year this fall without them.

According to Kenton County School District's Shelly Boutwell, who specializes in helping kids build healthy behavioral habits, good sleep and hydration are as critical to a child's education as they are neglected by children and parents alike.

Without them, students can experience "lack of concentration, inability to focus, increased agitation, decreased self-regulation and the inability to maintain cognitive abilities," she said.

So how much sleep and water should students be getting? The former depends on their age, Boutwell said. Teenagers should sleep between eight and 10 hours; younger kids should sleep even more.

"Kingdergarten up to age 6 need about 10-13 hours of sleep per night," she said. "Grade school kids up to middle school need between 9-12 hours per night."

In order to help them get that sleep, parents should turn off all electronics 30 minutes before the student's bed time and encourage them to do something that helps the brain prepare for sleep, such as reading or meditating. Ideally, Boutwell said, devices such as phones and tablets should spend the night in a living room or kitchen charging space rather than in a bedroom.

As for hydration, Boutwell said people of all ages should drink at least 40 ounces of water -- that's five to eight cups -- each day. Letting them take a reusable water bottle to school is a great way to make sure they have a steady supply throughout the school day.

It's not a bad practice for parents to get into at their jobs, either.

"Americans, 80 percent of us are dehydrated," Boutwell said. "They're drinking coffee, Monster drinks, sports drinks at an earlier age, so we're dehydrating our brain."