Post by Laura Jay-Ballinger, M.A., LMHC
It’s that time of year again– back to school! It’s hard to believe the summer went by so quickly!
I’ve noticed that both kids and adults have a difficult time adjusting routines and getting back to school. One of the most arduous tasks of the fall is establishing good sleep patterns again! It seems that during the summertime, parents tend to be more flexible regarding sleep and often don’t have the rules regarding sleep that are imposed during the school year. This can make for a rude awakening (literally!) Hopefully, you will find some helpful tips here for getting your kids back into their school routine and sleep routine.
First of all, basic sleep hygiene is good to know. The CDC recommends these four basic tips for good sleep:
- Go to bed and get up from bed at the same time each night and morning
- Sleep in a room that is comfortable and relaxing
- Only use bed for sleep (no reading, movie watching, etc.)
- Avoid large meals before bedtime.
Sleep is critically important for all of us but especially kids! It allows them to focus and learn– skills necessary at school. On average, preschoolers should be getting around 11-13 hours of sleep per night, 5-12 year old children should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers should be sleeping between 9-10 hours.
For starting back to school, a bedtime routine is essential. Kids crave structure and boundaries because they know what is coming and they feel safe. This is especially important with changes in their lives including starting a new school year. So, if you haven’t yet, establish a bedtime routine. If you have the time before the school schedule starts, gradually get back into sleep and wake times appropriate for the school day about two weeks before the first day of school. And, stick to the routine!
Also, try to get electronics out of the mix about an hour before bedtime. Too much screen time provides too much stimulus for kids before bed. Instead, use that hour to engage in relaxing activities and connect with your child.
An additional two quick tips: allow for adequate activity during the day and limit (if not prohibit) caffeine intake!
Lastly, remember there are always little eyes watching, so model what you want your children to see (and be) —including good sleepers!
I hope this year’s back to school season is a success with well-rested, ready-to-learn kids!