Does anyone else feel like they blinked and it’s already back-to-school season? If so, you’re not alone. Summer has flown by! Let’s discuss how to best prepare our kids for a successful transition into more structured school days after, what we hope was a summer full of adventures and probably a few late nights. In this blog, we will discuss what it looks like to build a sleep routine that supports the adjustment back into school.
It’s common knowledge that sleep is essential to growth and cognitive function. Quality sleep influences mood stabilization, focus and is a crucial component to the ability to form memories and retain information. How do we build an environment that encourages quality sleep for our children? Studies suggest that a bedroom should be dark, quiet (or have soothing noise), and cool (approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit ) for optimal sleep conditions. Keeping a fan in your child’s room can double as cooling and soothing noise. Having a sound machine or radio that plays music without words can help encourage feelings of calmness and relaxation as children drift off to sleep. In some circumstances, a night light may be necessary, so having one that can be set to a timer that shuts off after your child falls asleep is ideal for good rest.
Create a Sleep Schedule
While it varies from child to child, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages 3-5 need around 10-13 hours of sleep; children ages 6-13 need about 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need approximately 8-10 hours of sleep per night. One helpful way to maximize a sleep schedule is to use a ladder system leading into the first week of school. On weeknights, try having the kids go to bed and wake up 15-20 minutes earlier until you arrive at the desired bed/wake time. This gradual progression will help make the adjustment easier as it is a smaller increment of time. This is especially ideal with ages that may be more difficult to get to stick to a sleep schedule throughout the summer (let’s be honest, the FOMO is REAL). And as always, have an open dialogue with your kids about the importance of being well rested in the new year!
Teaching our kids healthy ways to wind down for bed is the key to training their bodies and minds to produce the hormones necessary for quality sleep. An hour before bedtime, try to restrict or completely eliminate screen time. Many studies have shown that blue light from screens blocks the brain’s ability to produce the “sleep hormone” melatonin, making it harder for our bodies to recognize we’re tired. It is also recommended to not schedule extracurricular activities or exercise at least two hours before bed as well. Instead, try a warm bath, special quiet time (like cuddling and talking about the day together), or having a cozy designated reading area where they can relax before bed.
We hope you find these tips helpful and that they make the transition back to school a dream!