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Back to School, Back to Sleep

This weeks blog comes to you from a guest blogger, Jenny Wise. Jenny is a mother to four wonderful children and a special home educator. We have all been there whether it be the start of a new school year, an extended holiday break or an unexpected long sickness, how do we get back into the normal school sleep rhythm. Jenny has written an educational and informative piece on simple ways to help your family get back into a healthy sleep routine. Click Here to learn more about Jenny and additional resources she has to offer. 

When summertime is here and the living is easy, routines tend to become relaxed. We let our kids stay up later after playing outside, watching movies, or hanging out with friends, and then we let them sleep in because they don’t have to get up early for school. As the time to head back to school approaches, though, we need to get them back into a better sleep routine so they can function at their best during the school day -- even if they’re just starting pre-school. Here are a few tips on how to create a healthy sleep routine for your kids.

Set and Maintain a Schedule

Don’t wait until the night before school starts to put your kids to bed earlier. Starting a couple of weeks before the first day of school, put them to bed a little earlier each night and wake them up a little earlier each morning until they are getting the proper amount of sleep for their age. The younger they are, the more sleep they will need. This will ease them back into a good schedule rather than shocking their system in one night. Once you have established a good sleep schedule for them, maintain it! Don’t use the weekends to “catch up” on sleep; it’s much better for your kids’ health to get the right amount of sleep each night.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual will help your young kids prepare for bed each night. About an hour before bed, start preparing for the next day -- lay out their clothes, pack their lunches if necessary, and make sure they have their backpacks ready to go. Give them their bath and then have a nice storytime with them before you settle them into bed. As your kids grow, this can turn into their own reading time, but parents reading to their kids when they are young is a good bonding time. Going through the same ritual each night will give them a cue that it’s almost time for them to go to sleep.

Limit Electronics

It’s fine if your kids want to play their electronics when they get home from school, but you should stop their use an hour or two before bedtime. Video games, watching TV, or playing on a phone or mobile device can keep your kids awake far longer than necessary. It’s best to keep these devices in main living areas. If your child is staying up too late, it may be time to remove technology from their bedroom. The clutter and the blue light emitted from screens can cause distractions and inhibit good sleep. Both are good reasons to make your child’s bedroom a screen-free zone.

No Stimulants

You should limit sodas and other drinks with caffeine for your kids in the afternoon, especially in the six hours before bedtime. If caffeine is in their system, it can interrupt their natural sleep patterns and make it difficult for them to fall asleep, which will make it harder for them to wake up the next morning. You should also avoid big, heavy meals close to bedtime, as this will make it harder for them to fall asleep as well.

Following these tips will help you create a healthy sleep routine for your kids before the start of the school year. Getting good sleep is vital both for their physical development and for their performance in school. And don’t forget to practice what you preach -- a good sleep routine is important for your health, and your kids are more likely to want to sleep if see you following the same model. Sleep tight!

Photo from Unsplash

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