10 Back To School Sleep Tips
My friend Angela Knappenberger is the author of this post. She is a sleep consultant, working with moms and children to help with sleep schedules and habits. She has helped many families with healthy sleeping habits for their children. She has volunteered to do a guest post on my blog and I hope she gives you great tips to help to get your kids a healthy sleep pattern.
10 Back to School Sleep Tips
Well, folks, I hate to break it to you, but summer is just about over. Its time to get ready to go back to school. Summer seems to get shorter every year, and I bet I’m not the only one who feels these sunny days quickly coming to an end. Back to school time brings a smattering of emotions to parents and children alike. Our kids are excited to see their friends again but scared to meet their new teacher. Good sleep at night gives your children an edge in the classroom during their waking hours. After all, an A+ sleeper makes for an A+ student. Below are ten sleep tips to smooth out your child’s transition from “fun in the sun” to “back in the class.”
- Set an appropriate bedtime– A bedtime between 7-8pm helps to ensure your child will get 10-12 hours of night-time sleep. I can almost guess what you’re thinking, “How in the world am I going to change my 5-year old’s bedtime from 10 pm to 7:30 pm?” It can be done, trust me! Move their bedtime back by 15 minutes every 3 or 4 nights until you land on their ideal bedtime. This technique works best if you start at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the school year.
- Set a timer– Set a timer when bedtime is about 10 minutes away and say, “When the timer goes off its time to get ready for bed.” When children know what’s coming, it helps them to prepare and cuts down on bedtime battles. Also, this is a great way of deflecting the blame away from you. Your child can’t be upset with you when really it was the timer that told them, playtime was over.
- Limit screen time before bed– Shutting down electronics at least an hour before bed works wonders. All devices…period. This means cell phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. They all emit blue light which suppresses the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Less melatonin means our bodies have to fight an uphill battle in order to fall asleep. It is better to engage in activities before bed that doesn’t have a power button. Puzzles, reading books, coloring are all great ideas! Save your children’s favorite puzzle and do it with them right before bed to make the experience extra special.
- Give your child space to talk about the upcoming school year– If you’re feeling anxious about the back to school transition, then your children are probably feeling similar emotions. Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Let them tell you what excites them and what scares them about the upcoming school year. Asking your children how they feel, and reassuring them will likely relieve their anxiety about the upcoming transition and replace it with excitement.
- Establish a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine– A consistent and predictable bedtime routine acts as a signal to their body and brain that it’s time to settle down and get ready to sleep. The routine should be 20-30 minutes in length and most of it should take place in the child’s room. The routine I often recommend is the “4 B’s Bedtime Routine.” You start with Bath (then pajamas), Brush teeth (and hair), then read a Book, then Bed.
- Cozy Sleep Environment– Keep your child’s bedroom as dark as possible. Be sure to remove electronics, or any tempting toys from the room. Your children need to focus on just sleep. You don’t want your child climbing out of bed to jump on their trampoline or play a video game on their tablet. You will also want to make sure that the room temperature is comfortable.
- Involve and reward your kids– Change is hard on adults and kids as well. Even though change is the only real constant in life it can still be scary. The more you can involve your children in the process of creating their bedtime routine the more confident they will feel about the transition to back to school. Reward charts can be helpful. Allow your children to choose a sticker to place next to each step as they journey through the bedtime routine. The more validation they receive during the back to school transition, the more at ease they will feel about the process.
- Maintain sleep schedule– As tempting as it may be, it just isn’t a good idea to let your child catch up on sleep over the weekend. Sleep debt is a real thing. If you let them sleep in on the weekend it could be much harder for them to wake up on time throughout the week. If they have a sleep debt, put them to bed a bit earlier for a couple of nights to help them catch up.
- Avoid big meals and caffeine close to bedtime– A large meal can make it more of a challenge for your child to fall asleep. Caffeine can be a huge problem. Your coffee wakes you up in the morning, right? If you let your kiddos have soda or chocolate close to bedtime, they will be too awake to fall sleep in a timely fashion. Be sure to avoid soda and chocolate at least six hours before bedtime.
- Be a role model– Most everything on this list is good advice for adults and children. Your children watch and mimic everything you do. It’s important that you do your best to model good sleep behavior. Be sure that you are going to bed and waking at roughly the same time each day doing your best to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. It’s a good idea to avoid caffeine 10 hours before bedtime to help you settle to sleep quickly and to create and maintain a relaxing bedtime routine as well. For most, this tip is far easier said than done, but your kiddo’s sleep depends on it.
There you have it! No more anxiety, right? Of course, you still have anxiety; you’re a parent! But I hope this list has answered some of your questions about your children’s sleep and replaced it with confidence and calm. I wish everyone the smoothest transition possible in their back to school journey. Follow these ten sleep tips and you will have an A+ sleeper and an A+ student. Should you hit any bumps in the road during your time of transition, chat with me and I will set you on the right path and get your family sleeping again. And as always, Sleep Well!
I hope you have found this article helpful! If you are interested in learning more about Angela, you may visit her here.
As always, if you have any comments, please leave them below!