The summer is coming to an end, which means kids will be starting back to school before you know it. The school season means the carefree days of staying up later than usual and sleeping in a few extra hours are also coming to end. Research has shown that children who don’t get the recommended amount of sleep may have more difficulty learning, so how do you ‘gently’ adjust your bedtime routine for back to school?
After months of not having a regular bedtime routine, it may be difficult to get kids back in the habit of going to bed earlier in order to get the sleep they’ll need for a successful school year. Here are a few tips to help get your family back into their regular bedtime routine.
Gradually Transition to Earlier Bedtimes
Instead of waiting until the night before the first day of school to get kids accustomed to back to school bedtimes, start the transition a couple of weeks before school starts. Each night gradually change their bedtime by 15-20 minutes. For instance, if they typically go to bed at 10pm, encourage a 9:45 bedtime and then about every 2-3 days reduce the time by another 15 minutes.
To ensure they wake up on time, make sure to gradually increase their wake times by 15 minutes each morning as well. Once you have achieved the number of recommended sleep hours for your child’s age, be sure to stick with these times to ensure they don’t fall back into the habit of staying up later. Keep in mind that when school starts you will also need to get up earlier in the mornings, so go ahead and start transitioning your bedtime and wakeup time when you start transitioning the kids.
Turn Off ALL Electronics Before Bedtime Routine Starts
Calmness and darkness are the key to falling asleep, so it’s important to have as little interaction with electronics as possible prior to bedtime. Set a curfew for all electronic devices, including televisions, computers and video games. Have kids turn all electronic devices off at least an hour before they go to bed and avoid having any light in the room.
If a night light is used, consider using a low wattage, red light bulb, which will allow the release of melatonin (natural chemical in the body that induces sleep). In the last hour or two before bedtime encourage a relaxing setting that will help kids calm down and relax before going to bed. For instance, dim the lights and have them read or listen to calming music before going to sleep.
Create a Comfortable Bedroom
One of the most important things you can do to ensure your kids will get a good night’s sleep is to make sure their room is clean and free from distractions. Make sure they have a comfortable mattress and pillows and consider using pillow and mattress protectors to prevent allergies and other irritants that may interfere with sleep. Their bedrooms should be a cool temperature and external lights and sounds should be blocked.
One of the most important factors of a successful back to school bedtime routine is having a successful morning routine. Getting kids to go to bed early is definitely a challenge, but sometimes the morning routines can be even worse. So, as you’re working on getting them used to going to bed earlier, it’s also important to get them used to a regular morning routine. Ask them if they would prefer to have an alarm clock instead of having you wake them up and try to get as many things ready for the morning before going to bed. For instance, set out their clothes the night before, which will make getting ready in the morning easier.
Sometimes, just knowing that they won’t have to rush in the morning will allow them to sleep better, so the more prepared they are the night before, the easier and calmer the mornings will be.