Essential Back to School Sleep Tips
Remember how much you used to look forward to summer vacation when you were a kid?
I get that same feeling now when school starts.
God knows I love my kids, but by the time summer is over, I’m pretty euphoric to get a few daily hours to myself again. For those of us with kids, back-to-school time means we get back onto a nice, predictable schedule.
Or so we hope…
Lack of good sleep can disrupt normal growth and development and can impact both the emotional and physical health of your child. Sleep disorders in children have been known to lead to underachievement in school, lower cognitive function, depression, and social conflicts.
They can also contribute to health problems such as more frequent infections, diabetes, and obesity. It’s important to monitor your child’s sleep patterns and address any noticeable signs of deprivation.
The first few weeks after the kids get back to class can be a little irregular. Usually, because we’ve been letting them stay up late. Returning them to a proper schedule can be a bit of an ordeal, but don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
How are we going to get them back on track?
Here are a few strategies to get your little ones’ snooze cycle back in sync:
First, don’t wait until the night before school starts to try to lay down the new/old law and have everybody in bed by 8:00. The excitement of a new school year, along with a couple of months of late bedtimes, will make this a difficult place to start.
At least two weeks before school starts, you should slowly start moving bedtime back to an appropriate time. If your child has been going to bed somewhere around 8:30-9:00 p.m. for the past couple of months, start by bringing bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every four nights. This way, by the time school begins, your child’s body has adjusted to going to bed at an earlier time.
I suggest that pre-school and school-aged children through to adolescents should be going to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
If you constantly need to wake your child in the morning, then he or she is going to bed too late. Putting your children to bed at the same time every night will teach their bodies to sleep the needed amount of nighttime hours so they can wake feeling naturally refreshed. There’s no need for alarm clocks if your child is going to bed early enough!
Get the kids involved! This can include toddlers all the way up to teens. For the little ones, make a chart of the bedtime routine and go over it with them before bedtime. Some good examples of bedtime routine activities include a bath, getting pajamas on, a glass of warm milk or a light snack (nothing sugary or caffeinated), stories, happy thoughts about their day, and so on.The purpose of the routine is to act as a system of cues for your child’s body and brain; it lets them know that the time for sleep is near. It should be in the same order every night and move in a step-by-step fashion. For young children, offering a sticker or a happy face beside each step of the routine (on the chart) can keep it moving in an efficient and positive way.
And one last tip:
Make sure your child’s room is dark enough at bedtime. This will help with the transition both at night and in the morning. The early-rising sun can provoke all of us to wake too early, so purchase some blackout blinds or hang a blanket over the windows to help keep out the sun
If you can help your child to get even one extra hour of sleep each night, it could have a noticeable effect on their behavior, school performance, mood, health and well-being. A well-rested child has a stronger immune system, better interpersonal relationships, and an improved ability to handle the stresses of everyday life.