Back to school is a time for packing lunches, meeting new teachers, and also getting back into a regular routine. Transitioning into a regular sleep routine once school starts can be difficult because of less restriction on sleep times in the summer, that later setting sun, and vacations that throw a sleep schedule out the window.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a number of reasons including maintaining good energy throughout the school day, supporting concentration and focus in class, and good growth because the production of growth hormone is strongest at night.
Here are a few tips to get your children going to bed earlier and back into their regular sleep routine before the school year is in full swing:
I generally recommend that if your children have been going to bed later during the summer months, which isn’t uncommon, to have them start going to bed earlier on an adjusted schedule roughly 2 weeks before school starts. Slowly inching your child’s bedtime can make a big difference. I advise moving bedtime back by 15-20 minute increments because this will gradually encourage your child to fall asleep earlier. Slowly moving sleep times back day by day will make it easier on your child and you!
Here is an example: if your child has been going to bed around 9PM and you want them to be going to bed at 7:30 instead, then it is going to take roughly 6 days to inch back their bedtime by 15 minute increments. It is nice to have a few buffer days in case they are not adjusting well.
Establish a routine:
Bedtime routines are sometimes non-existent during the summer months because of travelling and vacation; however, a routine can make going to bed earlier just a little bit easier.
Routines could include a bath or reading a book together for younger children or listening to quiet music for older kids. The bedtime routine can include a small protein snack, like a slice of turkey or handful of nuts, to help keep blood sugar stable throughout the night, sometimes this also helps kids to fall asleep too.
Sleep schedule maintenance:
Probably the most important aspect of a consistent sleep time is staying consistent! It is difficult for the body to go to bed at drastically different times and this can lead to issues waking up in the morning. It is important to keep the sleep schedule consistent on the weekends – I recommend that sleep and wake times do not vary by more than 1 hour on the weekend for kids (and adults!).
Power down electronics:
Avoiding the use of electronic devices, including TV’s, tablets, and phones helps to promote proper melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that signals our bodies to go to sleep. The light emitted from these electronic devices can inhibit the production of this hormone making it more difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, it is important to decrease the use of these devices to help your child get back on a regular or earlier sleep schedule.
Getting your child on a regular sleep schedule in preparation for earlier school start times will set them up for success for this school year. If you need some more ideas about healthy sleep and natural sleep remedies, then check out this article by Cori Burke, ND: 5 Best Natural Sleep Remedies for Kids.
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