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Back to School Sleep Tips

Sleeping boy with books at the deskI am having a hard time believing that the start of another school year is just around the corner! I’m also having a hard time believing that my oldest son will be in sixth grade and is off to middle school. My middle son is now a third grader, and my baby is going into second grade! Time really does fly…

Perhaps you’ve been letting bedtimes sneak later and later over the summer months. It has much to do with the fact that the daylight hours are longer, interfering with the release of melatonin (our “sleepy hormone”). That, and the fact that we feel the need to get out there and enjoy every bit of the warm weather and sunshine we possibly can. I’ve been tempted myself, and I must admit to the occasional late night at the beach.

But… School time means kids need to be awake and out the door first thing in the morning.

How are we going to get them back on track?

  • First, don’t wait until the night before school starts to try to lay down the new/old law and have everybody in bed by 8:00. The excitement of a new school year, along with a couple of months of late bedtimes, will make this a difficult place to start.
  • At least two weeks before school starts, you should slowly start moving bedtime back to an appropriate time. If your child has been going to bed somewhere around 8:30-9:00 p.m. for the past couple of months, start by bringing bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every four nights. This way, by the time school begins, your child’s body has adjusted to going to bed at an earlier time.
  • I suggest that pre-school and school-aged children through to adolescents should be going to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. If you constantly need to wake your child in the morning, then he or she is going to bed too late. Putting your children to bed at the same time every night will teach their bodies to sleep the needed amount of night-time hours so they can wake feeling naturally refreshed. There’s no need for alarm clocks if your child is going to bed early enough!
  • Get the kids involved! This can include toddlers all the way up to teens. For the little ones, make a chart of the bedtime routine and go over it with them before bedtime. Some good examples of bedtime routine activities include a bath, getting pyjamas on, a glass of warm milk or a light snack (nothing sugary or caffeinated), stories, happy thoughts about their day, and so on.The purpose of the routine is to act as a system of cues for your child’s body and brain; it lets them know that the time for sleep is near. It should be in the same order every night and move in a step-by-step fashion. For young children, offering a sticker or a happy face beside each step of the routine (on the chart) can keep it moving in an efficient and positive way.
  • And one last tip: Make sure your child’s room is dark enough at bedtime. This will help with the transition both at night and in the morning. The early-rising sun can provoke all of us to wake too early, so purchase some blackout blinds or hang a blanket over the windows to help keep out the sun.

If you are having a hard time getting your child to go to bed in a co-operative and timely way, check out the Sleep Sense Program and start making bedtime enjoyable for everyone.

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The Sleep Sense Philosophy

Cry-it-out? Coddle? Co-sleep? Attachment parenting? Ferberizing?
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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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