The first-day outfit is picked out, the pencils are sharpened, and the new backpack is ready to go by the front door. But before you and your family jump into the new school year, make sure that you’ve tackled your child’s sleep schedule, too.
After a summer of late nights and laid-back mornings, it’s likely that your kid could use help adjusting to the earlier bedtimes and wake-up calls. Not only will this lead to fewer “I don’t want to get out of bed!” fights, but it’s important for your child’s learning: Even just 25 minutes of less sleep per night can lead to lower grades, and insufficient rest has also been linked to fatigue and concentration problems in kids. These three tips can help your child successfully make the switch.
Don’t wait until the night before school starts to adjust your child’s bedtime. The sudden change could make it difficult for him or her to fall—and stay—asleep. Instead, slowly start making his or her bedtime earlier about two weeks before the first day (try pushing it forward five to 15 minutes each day). This will help your child’s circadian rhythm adjust to the new schedule. Not sure what time to set bedtime? Kids aged seven to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, while older kids need eight to nine hours.
If your kid doesn’t already have a set bedtime routine, now’s the time to create one, especially if your child is younger. Calming activities like reading a book or taking a bath can help your child wind down for bedtime. Plus, if you repeat the same process nightly, the routine will eventually cue her brain and body that it’s time to sleep.
Lax summer rules may have meant that your child was allowed to play on his or her laptop or cell phone in bed, but in order to get back on a regular sleep schedule, it’s important to keep electronics out of the bedroom, since they can lead to poor sleep. Not only can the “dings” of text messages wake your kid up, but the blue light that many devices emit may promote wakefulness (not what you want at 8:30pm!). Make a rule that all devices need to be turned off one hour before bed.