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7 Ways to Get Kids on Their Back-To-School Sleep Schedule

by Waverly Wilde

Gradually Introduce New Sleep Schedule

You don’t want to get a note from the teacher saying your kid has been falling asleep in class the first few weeks of school, but you still want them to enjoy the dog days of summer while they can. It’s important to begin introducing a new sleep schedule 2 or 3 weeks before the start of the new school year. Set the bedtime according to how old your child is and how much sleep they require--remembering to leave time to get ready in the mornings. Make sure to be consistent each night for a gradual transition--start having them go to bed 15-20 minutes early a few nights a week until reaching their desired bedtime.

Establish a Routine

If you want to achieve an effective sleep routine for your children, there are a lot of components that come into play. Have your kids lunches and backpacks ready to go, their outfits picked and laid out the night before, and decide if they need to take a shower before bed or in the morning. If the nightly tasks are out of the way early, it reduces the morning stress and allows for longer sleep. Repetition and a soothing sleep environment are key when starting a new schedule. It’s beneficial to mental and physical health, and ensures a vibrant, rejuvenating start to the school year.

Determine How Much Sleep Your Child Needs

We’d all like to get more sleep--parents included, but with busy schedules it’s hard to get in bed the same time every night. Getting the right amount of sleep is imperative for your children to be energized and focused throughout the school day. 8 hours per night is the general rule of thumb, but the number of hours of sleep your child needs comes down to age and how active they are each day. 

  • Toddlers sleep 10-13 hours per night

  • Kids sleep 6 to 13 but require around 9 to 11 hours

  • Teens sleep in the 8 to 10-hour range

If your kids are restless sleepers or spend too much time playing video games, check these tips for sound sleep.

Limit Beverages

Reducing the amount of sugar and caffeine your child consumes is something to consider--especially close to bedtime. Sodas and other caffeinated drinks impede a child’s quality of sleep as they shock the central nervous system--otherwise known as a sugar rush. They could also lead to getting up in the middle of the night for constant bathroom breaks. Limit beverage intake an hour before bed to reduce the chance of accidents and cut out caffeinated drinks at nighttime.

Limit Technology Use at Nighttime

It’s easy to get in a routine of turning on your favorite TV show to unwind before bed, but if you hope to wake up rested and ready for the day, put the technology away. Screen time from tablets, phones, computers, and TVs should be off at least an hour before bedtime. The blue glare from your screens causes strain to the eyes at night and sends activity signals to the brain that it isn’t time for sleep. Have your kids practice unplugging before bedtime to calm their minds, and prepare for sleep with a book, a craft, or writing in a journal.

Participation, Predictability & Perception

If you want your children to understand the value of good sleep, then parents need to allow them to participate in creating their own healthy sleep environment. If you’re shopping for new pillows or bedding, let your child pick them out. Having control over their bedtime space encourages positive sleep habits. If they decide what their bedtime activity is each night, they will feel more empowered and enthusiastic. Children are accustomed to routine and structure, so creating a predictable sleep routine helps the transition of beginning a back-to-school schedule. Parents should join in and create their own sleep schedule along with their children so the little ones know bedtime is seen as a positive and not a punishment.

Exercise After School

Whether your children participate in organized sports after school, or simply like to run around the backyard with the neighborhood kids, some sort of physical activity or exercise in the afternoon will help tire out the kids during the day to ensure a deep, restful night's sleep. Exercise helps relax the mind and feel a sense of accomplishment to unwind after each day. Find the right time of day that works for your kid’s routine and encourage them to get moving a little bit every day.

7  ways to get your kids sleeping well before back-to-school--they’re probably sleeping better already. Before you put the kids to bed, make sure to pay us a visit if you need help finding the right mattress for the best night's sleep.