Ah, summer—the few months when longer daylight hours lend themselves to later nights (and mornings!) While it’s an indulgence we all enjoy, it isn’t as fun when we’re preparing to go back to school. As September rounds the corner, we know a regular routine is paramount to kids’ success in school, and that includes sleep. Here are our top tips for getting your young ones back into a healthy sleep schedule.
Big changes can lead to big complaints with kids! Plus, their bodies need time to adjust to change. If you don’t want to upset your kids with a drastically earlier bedtime, try incremental changes instead: Send them to bed 15 minutes earlier every three days. So, if your child’s bedtime is typically 8:00 through the school year, but they’re going to bed at 9:00 through the summer months, send them to bed at 8:45 tonight. Three days from now, make it 8:30, and so on. It’ll make the transition easier on their internal clocks and easier on you!
Routine is built on consistency. When school rounds the corner, your kids won’t even have the option to wake up later, so start getting them used to waking up (and going to bed) at the same time every night for a smoother transition.
Nix sugar after 6:00
You may like to reach for something sweet at night, but it’s not good for you or your child’s sleep. Like caffeine, sugar is a stimulant, so skip the sweets after dinner, and beware of chocolate, in particular, which also packs a punch of caffeine. Caffeine blocks the production of both the hormone melatonin and the neurochemical adenosine, which make us feel sleepy.
Limit nighttime screen time
This goes for you, too! The blue light our devices emit is disruptive to our sleep. If your child watches Paw Patrol or plays on your iPad before bed, consider reserving devices for daytime, so the blue light doesn’t upset their circadian rhythm. Instead, consider bath time or reading before bed—even preparing tomorrow’s lunch or laying out tomorrow’s outfit! Quiet activities that help your child wind down and prepare for bed.
Make their room sleep-friendly
Would you be able to fall asleep in your child’s bedroom? Consider the brightness of their nightlight, noise from the TV and even the temperature of the room. These are things we’re aware of when we’re trying to fall asleep, but your kids may not be able to articulate. Take stock of their bedroom environment and troubleshoot any factors that may be contributing to disrupted sleep (hint: a cooler temperature is better for a more sound sleep—try 15ºC to 19ºC.)
At the end of the day, getting your kids back on a regular sleep schedule isn’t always easy. So, be kind to yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly. And make sure you get some sleep, too.
And if you don’t know how much sleep your child needs, read our post on family sleep schedules to learn more.