How to get Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule for School
The summer is almost ending, which means the return of school and the return of regular bedtimes. One of the most important things parents can do is to help kids do well in class is getting back on a healthy sleeping schedule in time for school.
Kids tend to stay up later and sleep in more when school isn’t in session. In the summer, it’s not such a big deal but during the school year, missing out on sleep can affect mood, learning, grades and much more. Getting kids back on a sleeping schedule that will help them perform better in school is the best way to start to the school year.
The best time to start getting children used to a sleep schedule for school is at least a week before school starts. If it is too late for that then no worries, but the sooner the better. Remember, kids need much more sleep than adults do, even teenagers.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, here’s how many hours of sleep school-age children should be getting each night:
- Ages 3-5: recommended 10 to 13 hours
- Ages 6-13: recommended 9 to 11 hours
- Ages 14-17: recommended 8 to 10 hours
Studies have shown American students are some of the most sleep deprived in the world, and that this is affecting theirability to learn and do well in school. There are many health benefits associated with getting plenty of sleep, but it also will improve a child’s ability to concentrate in the classroom.
Getting Kids Back on a Healthy Sleep Schedule
It can take a little while to fully adjust to a new sleeping schedule, but you can make the process a little easier by doing a few things.
Slowly move bedtime earlier.
Sudden changes can be the hardest to adjust to. Move bedtime back incrementally. If 10:30 has been the time the kids have been heading to sleep, try 10:00 for a night or two, then try 9:30 and so on until you reach the desired time that allows them to get enough sleep in per their age.
Children are much less likely to object if you ease them into it, also. Stick to the same times within one hour on the weekend will also make the new schedule easier and prevent sleep deprived Mondays.
Create a space where resting is easy.
Find out what may be inhibiting good rest in your child’s bedroom if they seem restless. Reduce light and noises that may make it difficult to sleep. Televisions, iPads, smartphones and other electronics are often cited as the biggest sleep stealers for kids and adults alike. For younger kids, be mindful of what TV and movies they are watching in the evening, as violent shows and even the news can create anxiety that make it difficult to get to bed.
Buying a new mattress is one of the easiest ways to greatly improve sleep duration and quality, especially if the child complains of discomfort or if they’ve been going through growth spurts. One brand that came out on top of our recent memory foam comparison is Amerisleep, and their affordable Amerisleep AS1 is a good memory foam mattress for children over preschool age.
Have time to wind down each night.
We are creatures of habit. Our bodies take environmental cues in order to anticipate behavioral changes. By reading or practicing another relaxing activity with our children each night a half an hour before bedtime, their bodies will learn to prepare for sleep. Have them avoid strenuous physical or mental activity before bed. A bath about two hours before bedtime is also a great nighttime ritual, and research suggests baths may help induce natural drowsiness due to the temperature drop as you move from warm to cool.
The sooner you start trying to adjust your children’s sleep schedules ahead of school, the better off they will be. A good school day begins with a restful night’s sleep. Give your kids the opportunity to do their best.
For more in-depth information on kids and good sleep habits, check out our previous article, “Developing Healthy Sleep Habits in Kids.”