Over the summer, it isn’t unusual for your family’s sleeping schedules to change—and, if that’s the case for your children, it’s important to return them to a back-to-school sleep schedule as smoothly as possible. That’s because getting enough quality sleep is one of the best possible ways to improve performance in school.
So, to help, we’ve scoured the web to find the best tips. Here are five of them.
Tip #1 Understand how adults and children react differently when they have a lack of sleep.
An expert quoted in InsideAkronChildrens.org points out how adults and children react differently to being tired, which can cause confusion for parents. Adults tend to feel drowsy when they need more sleep, while children can act out. This can cause some parents to believe their children aren’t tired, when in fact they aren’t getting enough sleep.
By understanding this difference, you can respond appropriately.
Tip #2 Focus on your own good sleep habits first.
The same article shares how children learn by example. So, when you make good sleep habits a priority and stick to your own schedule, children are more likely to do the same. (Plus, you’ll be a whole lot more rested!)
Tip #3 Adjust bedtimes to your back-to-school sleep schedule gradually.
Sleep.org suggests that you start adjusting about two weeks before school starts, making it earlier by just five to fifteen minutes per day. This allows your child’s circadian rhythms (sleep/wake schedule) to naturally adjust to the new schedule. Adjust as needed over this two-week period until your children are falling asleep at a time that gives them enough rest.
SleepFoundation.org shares that preschoolers should ideally sleep 10 to 13 hours per night and school-aged children ideally getting 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Use that as a guide as you set bedtimes and then gradually adjust your children to those times.
Tip #4 Create good nighttime routines, ones that don’t include the use of tech.
Include activities that calm your child, such as a bath and reading a bedtime story. In general, reduce noise in the child’s bedroom and in the house, overall. As you repeat these activities each evening, your child’s brain will begin to associate them with falling asleep.
Don’t allow electronic tablets, cell phones and so forth in bed, as they can lead to a lack of sleep. From the dings of text messages to the lights that glow, they can cause wakefulness—exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Tip #5 Prevent bedtime meltdowns.
When parents think about adjusting sleep times for their children, they often dread bedtime tantrums. Fortunately, RD.com offers advice to prevent them. First, the quoted expert suggests that you follow the tips we’ve already described (it’s always great to get confirmation!) and to follow them consistently.
It’s the consistency of guiding your child to good sleep habits that will have your child falling asleep at the most beneficial times. “It will take more than one night,” the article cautions, “for your child to adjust to the change and keeping a consistent schedule will help your child get familiar with the process and honor the new rules put in place.”
Finally, incorporate choice into the process. Give your child simple, well-defined choices, such as whether he or she wants to wear green or blue pajamas tonight, or whether there should be two or three bedtime stories. When you include your child in decision-making processes in these limited ways, it can actually “build excitement around the bedtime routine.”
Now, sleep well!