It’s hard to believe summer vacation is coming to an end and the kiddos will be back in school and daycare in a couple of short weeks. While it’s hard to say goodbye to the more relaxed, schedule-free days of summer, it’s always nice to get back into a routine. Children need their sleep to thrive in school and now is the perfect time to get them back into healthy sleep habits. Follow my tips below to help get your children back on track just in time for the school bell!
1. Find the appropriate bedtime for your child’s age
If you’re like most people, you have likely let your kids sleep schedule slide during summer break. If your kids have been going to bed later than normal and sleeping in, it’s time to get them back on track. Start working on getting your child on their school schedule about 2 weeks before the first day. You can do this by moving their bedtime back 15 minutes every 3 or 4 nights until you land on their ideal bedtime.
National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14 to 17 hours
Infants (4-11 months): 12 to 15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
School-aged Children (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours
Teenagers (14-17 years(: 8 to 10 hours
2. Limit screen time before bed
It’s a good idea to shut down electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Cell phones, tablets, computers and TVs all emit blue light which tricks our internal clock into thinking that it’s daytime. This can make it difficult to fall asleep. Encourage your child to read, do a puzzle or colour instead. This will help them wind down for bed.
3. Give your child space to talk about the upcoming school year
While a new school year can be exciting for kids, it can also cause anxiety for some. By giving your child an opportunity to discuss how they are feeling leading up to their first day, they will likely go to bed feeling supported and calm and therefore drift off to sleep a lot easier.
4. Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
A consistent and predictable bedtime routine is essential for children. Their routine is a signal to their body and brain that it is time to settle down and get ready to sleep. It can be as simple as bath, PJs, brush teeth, read stories and bed.
5. Ensure their sleep environment is comfortable
Keep your child’s bedroom as dark as possible. Even the smallest amount of light can prevent the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep. For older kids, be sure to remove electronics from their room so they won’t be tempted to sneak in a few more minutes of texting or games.
6. Involve your kids!
Change is hard on everyone, especially children, so involve them in the decision-making process. You’ll get buy in from your kids a lot easier if they’ve had some say in their new sleep routine. For younger children, you can make a chart of the bedtime routine and have them place a sticker next to each step to keep the routine moving forward in a positive way.