Newswise — Your children may need more hours of sleep than you think. While individual needs very, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that children 5 to 10 years of age sleep 10 to 11 hours per night and adolescents 10 to 17 years of age sleep 8.5-9.25 hours per night.

Children's poor sleep habits have a direct effect on their daytime behavior. Children who do not get sufficient sleep appear sleepy or overtired during the day and they may have difficulty waking in the morning. Perhaps of most concern, if left unaddressed, poor sleep habits can lead to behavior problems and learning difficulties in the classroom.

In fact, regular sound sleep is so important to children's health and well-being, that I encourage parents to make sleep a priority for their children. Here are some tips to help your child ease into his or her school-time sleep schedule and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year:• Start implementing the back-to-school bedtime schedule early – at least two weeks in advance of the first day of school.• Set a routine. Following the same pattern every night helps children get into go-to-sleep mode.• Set the time for wake up and sleep so children receive adequate rest. Moving both forward by 15 minutes at a time is preferable, rather than suddenly moving them forward by an hour or more. Remember you are adjusting both the bedtime and wake up time.• Turn off electronics. Studies show that should be done at least an hour before bedtime to help a child calm down for sleep.• No caffeine or sweets. It’s recommended that caffeine be stopped by early afternoon, but at the very least none after dinner.• Stick to your guns. Yes, they will whine about the earlier bedtime and wake up time, but it will pay off in huge dividends when school starts.

Signs that your child may have a sleep disorder include snoring or noisy breathing at night, problems breathing at night, mouth breathing while awake, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability or hyperactivity during the day and school difficulties. If you suspect your child has a sleep problem, consider a thorough physical evaluation and comprehensive sleep study, which can determine whether your infant, child or adolescent has a sleep disorder that requires medical treatment, or a problem that can be addressed with behavioral therapy.

Tracy Carbone, M.D., Director of The Valley Hospital Pediatric Sleep Disorders and Apnea Center, Ridgewood, NJ, is available for interviews on sleep issues in children and teenagers.