Introduce a back-to-school sleep schedule graduallyZurijeta/Shutterstock
You don’t want your kids to be exhausted during the first few weeks of school, yet you don’t want them to miss out on anything fun during those last weeks of summer. So where do you draw the line and start reinforcing a sleep schedule? Dr. Kristen Gregory, DO, a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says, “It’s important to start reinforcing a schedule at least two to three weeks before school starts. Depending on the age of your child and how much sleep they need, set a bedtime based on the appropriate amount, keeping in mind the time it will take them to get ready to leave in the morning. It’s easiest to make this transition gradually, by having children go to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier every three to four days until the desired bedtime is reached.”
Set up a routineFabrikaSimf/Shutterstock
There are a lot of different components that play a role in making sleep routines effective. Working backwards from the time you want shut-eye to start, have the kids pick out outfits the night before, make sure backpacks and lunches are packed and ready to go, and plan whether they will shower before bed or in the morning. “Getting things out of the way before bed allows for more sleep in the morning and less anxiety,” Dr. Gregory says. By the way, sleep routines lead to sounder snoozes for all ages.
At the end of the day, consistency is key. “While it may be difficult at first to stick to a new school schedule, it is beneficial to a child’s mental and physical well-being. Getting the kids acclimated with a new schedule early on ensures a happy, healthy start to the new school year.”