Getting kids back into a school year sleep routine is hard work. There are so many reasons for kids to stay up over the summer, like fireworks, campfires and the fact that the sun itself has been staying up so late.
Incrementally later bedtimes happen slowly over the summer, and at this time of year, parents are looking to reset the clock fast. But when you're six years old and you've spent the last couple months basically living a life of Saturdays, it might take some convincing to get you under the covers early.
Enter the Disney bedtime hotline. Until August 31 parents in the United States and Canada can call 1-877-7-MICKEY at bedtime and a classic Disney character (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck or Goofy) will tell your kids to go to bed.
Callers can select one of five special messages per call, and the folks at Disney hope the line will "give kids something to look forward to at bedtime" as we creep closer and closer to the first day of school.
The Disney bedtime hotline may sound silly, but getting kids back into a bedtime routine (especially when they've grown used to staying up as late as the summer sun) is serious business.
According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and when summer ends, kids no longer have the option of sleeping in a bit on weekdays. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes even further, recommending between 9 and 12 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 12 years old. Kids 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hour (including naps).
"Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life," said Wendy Hall, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine panel that made those recommendations explained after their release.
"Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity," Hall, a sleep specialist and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia continued.
"Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better," she explained. "Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps."
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a five-year-old who starts school at 8:00am (and needs an hour or so to get ready, eat and commute) should be going to bed at 8 or 9:00pm.
If your child's school starts early, or they have a long bus or car ride to get to school, you may have to call Mickey even earlier.
Thanks for the help, Disney.