Back to School Sleep Tips
For those of you with older Kindergarten or school-age kids, February means the start of a new school year. Regardless of whether we’re celebrating or commiserating this fact, the later bedtimes we allowed over the summer holidays mean it can be a real struggle to get back into routine!
Luckily most schools have one or two short weeks with public holidays and teacher-only days to get use to the change. These short weeks make it a little easier to ease back into it (which can be a good thing if you didn’t think to get back into routine a couple of weeks BEFORE the return to school).
School can also trigger all sorts of emotions (for us and our children). These can start before the first day with just the thought of a new class or new school, or a few weeks in, when the real learning starts. The first sign of trouble will often be a sleepless night.
Whether your child loves school or not, SLEEP is VITAL for learning and good performance. So here are some tips to help you start the school year on a positive note:
- SCHEDULE AN APPROPRIATE BEDTIME
Every child is different, so you’ll probably have a good idea when yours should go to bed; provided of course, that it’s somewhere between 7.00pm and 8.30pm for your pre-school or school-aged child (up to adolescent age).
If you constantly have to wake your child to get them up in the morning, then they’re going to bed TOO LATE.
Children need 10-12 hours of sleep a night, up until their teens (and possibly 10 hours even then).
Pick an appropriate time to ensure they can physically get enough sleep, AND have time to get ready in the morning, and then put your child to bed at this time every night. Going to bed at the same time each night will teach your child’s body to sleep the required amount of night-time hours, so they wake feeling naturally refreshed. There is no need for an alarm clock (or for you to wake them) if your child is getting to bed early enough and sleeping through!
- TURN OFF THE SCREENS
Did you know that the blue light emitted by computers, mobile devices and TV can trick our internal clock into thinking it is still daytime? This can make it that much trickier to wind down at night.
I suggest powering down all electronics around dinner time, and keeping them off until the morning.
(and yes, that goes for parent’s too! – OK if you can’t do that, at least set your phone to night(shift) mode).
- ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE
A good bedtime routine is essential. The routine is not just about getting physically ready for bed. It tells the brain that bedtime is approaching and lets it start shutting down in preparation for sleep.
And those sleepless nights I mentioned earlier? A routine, regardless of the age, can have a real calming effect as it gives your child predictability and consistency during a sometimes tumultuous period.
- SET A TIMER
Setting a timer can be a fun and effective way to keep the routine on track and stop the dawdling. You can make it a goal to have everyone ready for bed before the timer goes off (and it’s a great way to deflect the blame away from you – it’s the timer’s decision).
For some incentive, put a sticker on the calendar for every night they beat the clock; you can then offer a reward at the end of a perfect week.
- ALLOW READING TIME
Half an hour of book time is a great way to wind down before going to sleep. If they’re not an accomplished reader yet and/or you’re still reading to them; you can read for half the time, and then allow individual “reading”.
The repetitive eye motion and low-level brain activity is a natural sedative (which helps explain that sleepy feeling you get when reading bedtime stories to your kids – well, it works for me, I’m always yawning!).
- COOL AND DARK
Last but not least consider environmental factors.
The sun will still be up when your children go to bed, so making sure your child’s bedroom is dark is a must! Black-out blinds or a blanket over the windows can help with this.
It’s also difficult to sleep if it’s too hot. So if you have the luxury of an air conditioner – use it. If not, you may need to get creative. The ideal sleeping temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius (give or take a few degrees either way).
These tips are great ways to help get your kids back on a good sleep schedule. But what if they never had a proper schedule in the first place? If you’re having trouble getting your child to sleep through the night, contact me; I offer customised support to help make sleep a reality in your family!
Use the booking button to schedule your FREE 15-minute phone call today.
Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!