A helpful tool that determines the best time to say, night-night.

By Michelle Darrisaw
August 22, 2017
Young Boy Sleeping
Credit: Image Source/Getty Images

Back-to-school season is officially here. Beyond the impossible task of getting your children to do their homework, getting them to go to sleep is an even bigger parenting challenge. However, a nightly dose of vitamin ZZZ is instrumental in developing children's brains and bodies, as well as ensuring they wake up smarter, happier, healthier, and raring to go the next morning. Yet despite how essential sleep is to your kid's overall well-being, children (and parents) simply aren't sleeping enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children are getting less sleep than what experts recommend and more than two-thirds of children experience frequent sleep problems.

If you've struggled with deciding to put your preschooler to bed before 8:00 p.m., or whether to send your teenager upstairs to his or her room after 9:00 p.m., there is now a tool that can help. The new Bedtime Calculator was developed by the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, in partnership with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control. Regardless if your child is five or 18 years old, all you have to do is enter their age and the time they need to wake up. The online calculator does the rest—sans turning off the lights and setting the alarm, of course.

For example, the calculator would tell you that the proper bedtime for a 5-year-old kindergarten student who needs to wake up at 7:00 a.m. is before 9:00 p.m. Although, for the average 11-year-old, who needs to wake up by 6:30 a.m. for school, he or she would need to be in bed between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. This is determined by the AASM's recommendation that a child in this age bracket requires 9 to 12 hours of sleep. You can try out the handy slider tool here. We should note, however, that the wake-up times are only in 30-minute increments, predetermined by the AASM's recommended sleep durations.

Bedtime Calculator
Credit: Sleep Education

"Back-to-school time provides families with a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate their sleeping habits and establish healthy routines to ensure sufficient sleep," stated AASM President Dr. Ilene Rosen in an August 2017 press release. "No matter the age, children and adults report improved alertness, energy, mood and physical well-being when enjoying healthy, consistent sleep."

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Wondering how much sleep your toddler, older child, or teenager needs? Use this calculator to determine when to send them off to dreamland.