Where did summer go? Although children may not be ready to start thinking about the upcoming school year, parents should begin now to reset their child’s sleep schedule. During the summer break, many children go to bed later and wake-up later than they do during the school year. Here’s how to get back on track for those early school days and how to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the year!
About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule. Each night move your child’s bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes, and wake them up about 15 minutes earlier every morning. This will make sure that when school starts they are able to get the amount of sleep they need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
Make sure that when school starts, your child wakes up with the amount of sleep they need for their age-group.
- Infants four to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Children six to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
Make Sleep a Priority.
- Everyone in the house should follow the rules of sleep hygiene (consistent sleep schedules, relaxing bedtime routine, no technology in the bedroom, etc.).
- With the start of the school year, this is especially important as the transition from late nights and sleeping in to early bedtimes and early rise times can be extremely difficult.
Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule.
- Bedtimes and wake times should not vary by more than an hour on the weekends. Don't use the weekend to play catch-up on sleep. Once a schedule is established, stick with it!
Have a Relaxing Bedtime Routine.
- At least 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off all electronics and allow your child time to “unwind.” A consistent bedtime routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or reading time (for older children).
- Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment with a dark room, comfortable bed, and a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold.
Take Technology Out!
- Get technology out of the bedroom. Computers, televisions, video games, and cell phones should be removed from your child's room and set up in a different location.
Avoid Big Meals Close to Bedtime.
- A heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep.
- Sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited after noon, and especially at night. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine six hours before bedtime, as the caffeine can interrupt your child's natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Be a Role Model.
Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.
The sooner your child readjusts to a school-time sleep-schedule, the better he or she will feel during those early morning math classes. Feeling fully rested and excited for the day, your child (and you) will have the best year yet. Start rolling back the bedtimes now and you’ll sail into the new school year!