A new school year is approaching and this means that the days of your child's relaxed mornings and lazy summer days are about to transform into packed schedules of classes, after school activities, and homework.
It's going to be a challenge trying to get your child back on a sleep routine that's healthy and important for school performance, but there are ways to ease into this transition.
How Long is a Sleep Cycle?
Children especially need sleep since it directly impacts their physical and mental development. By the time children reach preschool age, their sleep cycle is around every 90 minutes, according to the Sleep Foundation. This cycle includes both non-REM and REM sleep which is essential for restoring their body from the wear and tear of each day.
Tips for Creating a School Sleep Schedule for Your Child
Statistics show that sleep loss in children can lead to:
- Poor concentration
- Lackluster school performance
- Risk-taking behaviors
Children who are sleep deprived may overcompensate for their lack of sleep by being disruptive and fidgety in school. Below are ways to help teach your child how to get to sleep early.
Adjust Bedtime Gradually
It's not a good idea to wait until the night before your child goes to school to adjust their bedtime. You'll want to slowly ease your child into their new school bedtime schedule at least a couple weeks before their first day of school. During the two weeks prior to school starting, push up your child’s bedtime by 5 to 15 minutes each night until you reach the desired bedtime you're looking for. This helps your child's circadian rhythm adjust to this new bedtime schedule.
Create a Peaceful Bedroom Environment
Keep your child's bedroom environment peaceful. Make sure their bed is comfortable, their room is dark and the room temperature is neither too cold nor too hot. Keep electronic distractions like computers, smartphones, video games, and television out of their bedroom. These are not only mentally stimulating, but they also emit blue light that can trick your child's brain into thinking it's daytime and it needs to stay awake. If needed, use a sound machine to create white noise that gently lulls your child to sleep.
Create a Bedtime Routine that's Relaxing
Before your child goes to bed, allow them to unwind by implementing a "quiet time." This can be a routine that's filled with things like a warm bath and reading time.
Setting a back-to-school schedule doesn't have to involve unpleasant battles and heated friction every night to get your child to bed. By transitioning your child early into a new bedtime schedule, you can gradually create a healthy sleep routine for your child that will keep them fresh and alert for their first day back to school.