By Nicole Goben, MS, RD, CDN
Do you have children heading back to school? Preparing for the school year is more than just packing new backpacks and lunch boxes, it’s also important to think about your child’s sleep schedule. Summer tends to bring later nights and relaxed mornings so it may take some time to get back to early bedtimes and wakeups. As little as 30 minutes less sleep per night can lead to fatigue, lower grades and concentrations problems. With a little preparation, you can adjust your child’s sleep schedule to set them up for success.
Gradually Adjust Bedtimes
Begin gradually adjusting your child’s bedtime two to three weeks before the first day of school. Waiting until the night before school starts to have them go to bed early may make it hard for them to fall asleep or stay asleep. Figure out their ideal bedtime by deciding what time they need to get up and their recommended sleep duration. Kids aged seven to twelve need 10 to 11 hours of sleep while older kids need eight to nine hours. You can start by adjusting both bedtime and wake time 15 minutes earlier every two to three days until the desired schedule is reached.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
A consistent bedtime routine will help your child wind down from the day and signal their body that it’s time to sleep. While younger kids in particular thrive from a bedtime routine, it is never too late to start one! The routine should include calming activities such as taking a bath, brushing teeth, changing into pajamas and reading books. It also may be helpful to turn on white noise at bedtime. Remember that consistency is key to making the bedtime routine effective.
Take Technology Out of the Bedroom
Electronics in the bedroom have been shown to lead to poor sleep. Blue light that is emitted from many devices can delay melatonin production which is a hormone associated with sleep onset. There should be no “screen time” an hour before bed including television, laptop, iPad/iPhone or any other device with artificial light.
Use these tips for getting your child ready to go back to school and year-round to ensure that they are well rested and functioning at their best!