Girl gets settled in bed to prepare for the start of the school year

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Start school bedtime routines now

  • Adjust bedtime and wake up schedules now. Your kids, and you, will have a few weeks to practice going to bed, and waking up, earlier.
  • Remove all screens from kids’ rooms. Children with screens in their bedrooms sleep 40 minutes less on average.
  • Total hours of sleep needed each day varies with the age of your child.

It’s tough enough in a normal year for kids to adjust from lazy summer days to a new school year with an earlier bedtime and new school routine. This school year will be especially challenging for some kids and parents, after a year of COVID and virtual and hybrid learning.

Going back to school is a big change for a kid. That’s why I recommend adjusting bedtime and wake up schedules now. Your kids, and you, will have a few weeks to practice going to bed, and waking up, earlier.

Many middle school age kids and teens, don’t get enough sleep on school nights. A child who gets enough sleep does better in school, has better relationships with teachers and school mates, and tends to cope better and have less anxiety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • children 3 to 5 years get 10 to 13 hours of sleep (can include naps)
  • children 6 to 12 get 9 to 12 hours of sleep
  • teens 13 to 18 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Bedtime sleep strategies for kids 

Start adjusting bedtimes a few weeks before school starts. 

  • Don't wait until the last minute. New bedtime and morning routines take time to establish. The more lead time you have the easier that first day back at school will be.
  • Adjust bedtime all at once or gradually move it up by 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
  • If your child resists an earlier bedtime, wake up your child at the new morning time. This earlier wake up may mean he or she is sleepier at bedtime the next night.

Help kids slow down and get into a nightly routine

  • Outdoor play is a great way to get exercise to help your kids sleep better. But have kids get about an hour of quiet time before bed. Encourage them do quiet, relaxing activities, such as a bath or shower, cuddling with you, doing puzzles or reading.

Get your kids involved

  • Have your kids set out their clothes the night before, plan their breakfast and pack a lunch.
  • Have them practice setting an alarm.
  • Practice your morning routine such as showering, teeth brushing and packing a backpack.

Reinforce good bedtime habits

  • Some kids do well with meditation and breathing practices to help them wind down and get ready for bed.
  • Remove all screens from your children's bedroom. And avoid computers, smartphones and tablets for 2 hours before bedtime. Children with screens in their bedrooms sleep 40 minutes less on average.It's also a good idea to be a model for your children, and do the same yourself.

All families are unique. Establish a routine that works for your family and stick to it for the school year. Adjust bedtime and wake up times as your child grows. If these tips don’t work for you, talk with your pediatrician.

 

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