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8 Essential Back-To-School Sleep Tips

Happy girl home from school

Remember how much you used to look forward to summer vacation when you were a kid?

I get that same feeling now when school starts.

God knows I love my kids, but by the time summer is over, I’m pretty euphoric to get a few daily hours to myself again.

For those of us with kids, back to school time means we get back onto a nice, predictable schedule.

Or so we hope…

The first few weeks after the kids get back to class can be a little irregular. Usually because we’ve been letting them stay up late.

Returning them to a proper schedule can be a bit of an ordeal, but don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Here are a few strategies to get your little ones’ snooze cycle back in sync

• Don’t wait until school starts
Two months of late bedtimes isn’t something you can just snap back from in a night. Your child is going to need some time to adjust, so two weeks before school gets back in, start moving bedtimes back by 15 minutes every 4 nights or so.

• Set a timer
This is a great way of deflecting the blame away from you. After all, it’s not you hustling them to get to bed. It’s the timer! It can also be a fun challenge for them to get ready before it goes off. Put a sticker on the calendar for every night they beat the clock, and offer a reward for a perfect week.

• Turn off those screens
Computer, TV, and phone screens all emit blue light, which tricks our internal clocks into thinking that it’s still daytime. If you want my advice, power down the electronics at dinnertime and keep them off until the next morning. (This goes for parents too!)

• Routine, routine, routine
It doesn’t matter if your child is going into grade one or grade 12. A good sleep routine is essential. It’s not just about getting them physically ready for bed. The routine signals their brain that bedtime is approaching, and the brain starts shutting down in preparation for sleep.

• Schedule an appropriate bedtime
Every child is different, so you probably have a good idea when they should go to bed. This is provided, of course, that your idea is 8:00. “Well,” I can hear some of you saying, “my child usually doesn’t get tired until around 10 or 10:30, so I figure…” Let me just stop you right there. 8:00 every night. Full stop. No later. Kids need at least 10 hours of sleep a night, so unless you can wake them up and get them ready for school in half an hour, 8:00 it is.

• Keep the room cool and dark
The sun is still staying up late and getting up early through September, so make sure the blinds in your child’s room are blocking it out. The sun also has a habit of heating up the bedrooms, so set the thermostat somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees an hour before bedtime.

• Allow some reading time
Whether you’re reading to your kids or they’re reading on their own, a half hour of book time is a great way to wind down before going to sleep. The repetitive eye motion and low-level brain activity is a natural sedative. (Which is why so many of us find ourselves falling asleep while reading to our kids.

• Remove temptation
Older kids with cell phones can be tempted to sneak a few extra minutes of text messaging or web surfing if they’ve got their phones in their rooms with them. Keep their chargers in the kitchen and get them to plug in before bed.

These are great ways to get your kids back onto a proper sleep schedule, but what if they’ve never gotten into a proper schedule in the first place? For parents who are having trouble getting their kids to sleep through the night, I recommend my Sleep Sense Program. It’s a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to establishing a proper bedtime routine and getting them to sleep for 10-12 hours a night.

The Sleep Sense Program

One last thing… the best way to ensure your kids get a good night’s sleep is to set a good example. Turn the TV off well before bedtime, read a little before going to sleep, and set yourself a routine. You’ll sleep better, and you’ll never have to explain why the rules don’t apply to you.

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant Tip:

“If your toddler or older child is having trouble falling asleep at night, you may want to limit their screen time before bed. The light from the tv, phone, iPad etc inhibits the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you fall asleep. Turning off the screen at least one hour before bed will really help.”

Leslie Black MA, RCC
A Kiss Goodnight Sleep Consultation
(604) 984-0116

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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