The back to school season elicits a full array of emotions from parents and children alike. While you’re busy shopping for supplies and the coolest clothes, you may want to give some thought to preparing your child’s sleep schedule to head back to school too.
While I recommend that parents don’t shift sleep schedules later in the summer, the reality is that is often hard to avoid. So if bedtime and/or wake times have crept later in your house here are some tips to get your child’s sleep back to school ready.
- Shift the Schedule Well in Advance
Starting as early as two weeks before the first day of school, begin to gradually shift your child’s sleep schedule earlier. For example, shift bedtime 10 minutes earlier than usual and wake your child 10 minutes earlier the following morning. Each day (or every few days if you prefer) repeat the process until your child is waking at the time she needs to wake on a school day AND getting the appropriate amount of sleep for her age group. Once you have reached this schedule be sure to stick with it even on the weekends. If daylight or neighborhood sounds are causing an issue at bedtime consider adding blackout curtains and white noise.
- Create or Revisit a Wind-Down Routine
If a predictable bedtime routine has fallen by the wayside with all the extra activities of summer now is the perfect time to reintroduce one. This routine should take place in your child’s room and include activities that help the brain and body to wind down such as reading or being read to.
- Avoid Screens Before Bedtime
Allow at least a one hour buffer from the end of screen time to the start of bedtime. This includes television, video games, tablets, phones, etc. The light emitted from screens interrupts the production of Melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone, and tells the brain to wake up. For older children with their own devices consider having a rule of leaving devices outside the bedroom to avoid temptation.
- Avoid Heavy Meals and Caffeine
A heavy meal too close to bedtime can interfere with your child’s ability to fall asleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep patterns so limit your child’s caffeine intake in general and avoid caffeine altogether within 6 hours of bedtime.
- Do a Comfort Check
Children also struggle to sleep in rooms that are too exciting or distracting, too hot or too cold, or bedding that is uncomfortable. Spend some time in your child’s sleep area to see if anything needs to be addressed.
Preparing your family’s sleep schedule in advance will help ease those back to school blues for everyone.
Originally published on A Child Grows.