BACK TO SCHOOL
It’s mid August which means the return to school is just around the corner. As you’re preparing by shopping for new backpacks, water bottles and sneakers, don’t forget about setting up your child for success with sleep. Elementary age children should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep every night, preschoolers 11-13 hours and toddlers 12-14 hours.
Below are some tips in what you can do NOW to help get your child’s sleep in shape for the start of a new school year:
- Bring back a consistent schedule – during the summer, schedules can go out the window with all the late night s’mores, beach nights and vacations. You don’t want to start with a new schedule the night before school, but rather gradually implement one now over the next couple of weeks to make it easier on everyone. Start putting your child to bed 15 minutes earlier than you were until you get to the desired bedtime for school. Additionally, if your child is sleeping late, in the morning start waking them up 15 minutes earlier until you get to your desired wake time. Otherwise, they are going to have a really hard time getting out of bed that first day! By sticking to this schedule a couple weeks before school starts the transition will go a lot smoother. If your child is still napping, make sure you’re offering it at the same time every day and that they are taking it at home in their own crib/bed versus on the go, to get the most restorative sleep.
- Practice good sleep hygiene– the best thing you can do is to make sure your child’s bedroom is pitch black for sleeping. The darkness helps release the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep. It will help them go to sleep at night (if it’s not dark outside yet) and let them sleep longer in the AM. Blackout shades are a must, as well as keeping the room cool and using white noise to block out distracting sounds from inside and outside the house.
- NO screens before bed – this also might have fell by the wayside during the summer as perhaps there was more screen time during those lazy days but ending screen time at least an hour before bedtime is crucial for your child to fall asleep easier. Multiple studies suggest that children exposed to blue light before bedtime experience poorer quality sleep as it is thought that the blue light suppresses melatonin.
- Bring back the bedtime routine – during the summer when bedtimes might have crept later, the routine might have been shortened or eliminated all together. Start bringing back this wind down routine before bed to start signaling the body and brain that it’s time to sleep, especially as you’re trying to bring the bedtime earlier. Start dimming the lights around dinner time, take a warm shower or bath, make sure there is enough time to read a couple books and you can even try some meditation exercises which are great to help relax little bodies and minds before bedtime.
If you’re experiencing bedtime battles, overnight waking or need help with your school schedule please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.