The back to school TV commercials are in full swing and you are likely spending a small fortune on back to school clothes and supplies, but have you thought about back to school sleep needs?? Sleep is important year round, but during school times, when learning is so intensive, it becomes even more important to develop healthy habits and ensure our children are meeting their needs.
First, let’s start by reviewing the recommended amounts of sleep for children and why achieving these recommendations is so important:
- Infants 4 to 12 months – 12 to 16 hours every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years – 11 to 14 hours every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years – 10 to 13 hours every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years – 9 to 12 hours every 24 hours.
- Teens 13 to 18 years – 8 to 10 hours every 24 hours.
Children who are getting sufficient sleep at night and for naps (if needed) on a regular basis, see many benefits including attention span, learning, memory, behavior, emotional regulation and overall quality of life. It’s clear to see how these benefits will help our children at school and at home alike.
Consider the tips below to help your kiddos meet their sleep needs:
Tip #1 – Sleep Schedule
At least one week before school starting, re-establish your school schedule. This means waking children up at the time they will need to awaken once school starts. This will help them transition their entire day to be in line with their school schedule and will also make it easier to move to earlier bedtimes…
Tip #2 – Bedtime
Introduce earlier bedtimes to ensure your littles meet their sleep needs early in the night. Bedtimes for school age children typically range in between 7:00 – 8:00. Earlier bedtime makes it easier for children to drift off to slumber, can help to prevent middle of the night wakings and ensure they are getting the most restorative sleep, which happens earlier in the night.
Tip #3 – Bedtime Routine
Develop a consistent bedtime routine to help your children transition to sleepy time. Children crave consistency and routine so having a consistent bedtime routine helps them to adjust from play to sleepy time. A good routine lasts in between 15-30 minutes, is not rushed and incorporates several soothing elements. Consider a bath with soothing essential oils, then pajamas, cuddles and books. Ensure that this is a calm time, with focus on connecting with your child, which may help prevent bedtime battles.
Tip #4 – Quiet the House
Before you start your bedtime routine, quiet down the house. I recommend turning off the TV and tablets; turning on soft, relaxing music; and engaging in quiet play/reading to begin transitioning your children from their busy school day into their soothing bedtime routine. The blue light emitted from TVs and tablets can be stimulating and can delay melatonin production, therefore delaying the onset of sleep, which can negatively impact your children reaching their required sleep needs.
Tip #5 – Find Balance
As you are looking at all of the extracurricular activities that are available for your children, ensure that the choices you make to fill their time for enrichment also allow for enough time for them to complete their homework AND get adequate rest. The key is balance between learning, fun and sleep!