How much sleep do elementary school kids need?

One of the most challenging parts of back-to-school time for parents? Getting your kids on the right track as the year kicks off.

"Started just talking about it --how exciting it is," says mom of three Angelene Lord. "Going to see a new teacher. They're going to get to see who is in their classes. We are trying to build up the excitement of that instead of making it about homework and focusing on the work part of it, it's fun for them to be back in school."

One of the most important things is getting your kids enough sleep. With longer days and earlier bedtimes, that isn't always easy.

"We're trying to get back into a sleep schedule," says Lord. "They go to bed at 8 -- and during summer hours hopefully by 10. It's just easy to get out of habit because it's light outside for so long in the summer.”

So how much sleep should elementary school students be getting?

"School-age kids 5 to 12 years old need a total of 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night, which is much more than most people would think,” says Dr. Jesse Hsieh, family doctor at South Bend Clinic.

"No matter what time we put them to bed, they wake up at the same time in the morning," says Lord. "See, you can definitely tell it's a long day when they haven't slept well or enough."

Easing your kids into their school-time sleep schedule can help maintain healthy habits, and you as a parent can be a role model.

"Setting the example yourself is a good way to do it, and also having very regular sleep times and very regular wake up times,” says Dr. Hsieh.

Try to establish a relaxing bedtime routine, limit television, video games, and other electronics distractions before bedtime. Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment, and avoid big meals close to bedtime.

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