Summer has its own pace, but school in September demands more routine. It will be easier for both parents and kids to ease into their new school year bedtimes and wake-up times if parents start, two weeks before school begins, to implement a plan.
- Start making both wake- up time and bedtimes earlier. Gradually move these times earlier, in small increments, (about 15 minutes every other day, time permitting) as the start of school approaches.
- Plan to do activities earlier in the morning. I encourage outdoor activities as much as possible. It doesn’t help kids to be cooped up inside, and couch time watching screens doesn’t promote good sleep either.
- A parent’s mood is contagious. Be calm and cheerful. Avoid interruptions such as answering your phone. This is a valuable time to connect with your children.
Preparation for sleep:
- The bedroom needs to be dark, quiet and comfortable.
- Eliminate screen time before bedtime. TV and computers are too stimulating right before bed. Even light from a sleeping computer can make sleeping difficult.
- Avoid exercising or doing anything too thought-provoking.
- Limit any caffeine intake in the afternoons and have a healthy diet because quality meals set the stage for successful sleep.
- Do something quiet, like reading. This sends a signal to the brain that it is time to wind down.
Be prepared to listen to your child’s concerns. When children have an opportunity to voice their concerns they are able to sleep better.
Don’t talk about going back to school too much, especially if your child tends to be anxious.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of U.S children ages 5 to 17 feel tired at some point during the day and 1in 4 feel tired most of the time.
Sleep deprivation diminishes mental performance. Lack of sleep causes temporary loss of I.Q. points (National Institute of Health).
The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following guidelines for children:
6- to 9-year-olds need about 10 hours of sleep a night.
10- to 12-year-olds need a little over nine hours each night.
Teenagers should aim for eight to nine hours per night.