We’re approaching the countdown to the beginning of the school year, and the summer vacation is winding down. With a few weeks until the return of homework, rides to school, and early morning wake-up calls, now may be the best time to adjust your children’s sleep schedule.
Chances are your little ones have been taking advantage of the break by late bedtimes, and late wake-ups. Taking a few steps now may help them better transition to the inevitable early mornings.
Sleep affects how children think and function, so a proper good night’s rest is crucial. It is important to note preschoolers require 11 to 13 hours of sleep every night. If your child is a little older, school-age, 10 to 11 hours are a must in order to function adequately, according to the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends parents to gradually adjust their children’s sleep schedule a few weeks before the start of the school year. Following a few simple tips can make the first week of school run a lot smoother:
- Return to a sleep schedule appropriate for school about two weeks before classes start by setting an earlier bedtime every night.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Once a sleep schedule is established, stick with it!
- Set a relaxing bedtime routine, free from TV, video games, phones, or other gadgets. Before bedtime, establish a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind.
- Avoid big meals or caffeine late in the evening. A heavy meal, sodas and other caffeinated drinks can prevent a child from falling asleep. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine six hours before going to bed.
- Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment. A dark room, comfortable bed, and appropriate room temperature will allows children to sleep better.
Remember, the sooner you begin a sleep pattern prior to the start of the school year, the better! Waking up on the first day of school will be less painful.
Speak with your family’s pediatrician if your child experiences regular sleep problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 69 percent of children under 10 years old have some type of sleep condition, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or sleepwalking. Your doctor can determine if it is serious, and can recommend a course of action.