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As we inch closer to the first day of school, it’s time to get back on schedule and start going to sleep earlier. Toddlers, children, and teenagers require lots of rest for their growth and development, but even the best parents might not realize the ramifications of missing as little as 30 minutes of sleep. We’ve got some tips for better back-to-school sleep and how to get your child’s sleep schedule back on track.
The key to establishing good sleep routines with children is consistency and patience. Homework, extracurriculars, and social schedules can make the months between August and June extremely hectic, which is why enforcing a healthy sleep schedule for your children is vital to their health — and your sanity!
How much sleep does your child need?
It’s no surprise that children need more sleep than adults. But how many hours of sleep are right? Although it’s important to remember that each child’s sleep scheduleis unique, the Mayo Clinic created a framework of recommended sleep hours depending on the age of your child:
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
- Grade-school children (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8 to 10 hours
Returning to a School Night Sleep Schedule
1. Plan ahead and take it in stages.
The transition from laid-back bedtimes to early morning alarms will be smoother if you start a few weeks before the first day of school. Start enforcing earlier bedtimes gradually, in 15-30 minute increments.
Also, don’t let your child sleep in too late as this will make going to sleep at a reasonable school-night hour more difficult. If you plan fun end-of-summer activities, schedule playdates and shop for back-to-school supplies, your child will be excited to wake up earlier.
2. Establish a bedtime routine.
Instilling a wind-down period before bedtime that includes several calming activities can help your child fall asleep. A consistent routine can act as a cue for your child’s body. Whether a toddler or teenager, children thrive when they have a well-established routine. Taking a bath, reading a book, etc. can relax your child and ensure that they understand what is expected of them during “school-night mode.”
3. Make sure your child exercises and eats healthy.
Science has shown that exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Physical activity throughout the day can get your child’s energy out, making bedtime easier. Even an activity as easy as a post-dinner walk or bike ride can help you and your children achieve better sleep.
One study has shown that eating more fiber and less saturated fat and sugar was linked to getting deeper, more restorative sleep, with fewer awakenings throughout the night. So make the perfect, healthy bedtime snacks for your children for before bed!
4. Enforce a digital curfew.
The blue, artificial light emitted by electronic devices such as cell phones, television, computers and gaming devices suppress the body’s natural production of melatonin, which is critical to falling asleep. It’s important to keep electronic devices out of the bedroom to promote sleep.
Not only are the constant notifications mentally stimulating, but the pressure to respond at any hour of the night might be a source of anxiety for your child. Make it a rule that all devices need to be powered off one hour before bedtime.
5. Create a sleep-friendly environment.
Your child’s sleep scheduleis greatly affected by his or her sleep environment. The bedroom should be conducive to sleep. Make sure their room is as dark as possible and set the thermostat between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which are easy tips to sleep in hot weather.
Keep an air purifier or white noise machine in the room to drown out all other disruptive noises that could potentially wake your child. If your child wants the responsibility of watering a plant, try growing some bedroom plants to help you sleep, which remove household air toxins and have calming effects.
6. Communicate with your child.
Children naturally want to push boundaries, and bedtime is no different. It’s important to create a dialogue with your child that allows them to have some sense of control over their school-mode schedule. Allowing your child to be a part of the conversation on why they have a specified bedtime can achieve this goal. To help your younger child feel empowered, let him or her make some bedtime decisions. Ask which story he or she wants to hear or what pajamas they want to wear.
Make sure to set clear rules and be consistent. Set a limit for the number of stories you read them or lullabies you sing and don’t allow them to continue to make requests after lights out. It’s normal for children to request a drink or call out complaining that they aren’t tired, but don’t allow getting out of bed become a habit for your child. One trick to contain this problem is to give your child one “pass” out of their room after lights out for anything else they might need. This will ensure your child sleeps well.
Long-Term Benefits of Sleep Routines
Normalcy and daily routines during early childhood are linked to better cognition and reduced behavior problems. Our bodies link certain times of the day to activities and release hormones to prepare our various body systems for these events. We naturally become more alert closer to our wake-up time and are stimulated by bright light in the morning. Our bodies release melatonin that makes us relax and grow sleepy around bedtime, which is why regularity in your child’s sleep schedule is a huge part of a healthy circadian rhythm.
Resetting Your Sleep Clock
Children shouldn’t be the only ones making sleep a priority. Parents need restful sleep too! After getting out-of-step during summer, it can be harder to fall asleep or wake up at the ideal times. There are a few simple ways to adjust sleep schedules and fix bedtime habits so you aren’t exhausted during school mode. Minimizing stress, exercising, creating a nighttime ritual and maximizing your comfort are all ways to get a better night’s sleep.
How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule In One Night
Well, if you waited until the last minute to get your family’s sleep schedules back on track, don’t panic! There are a few hacks to reset your circadian rhythm in one night.
- Manipulate light exposure: As soon as you wake up, start exposing yourself to natural sunlight and bright light and continue throughout the day. Begin dimming lights in the evening as the sun sets, and make sure your bedroom is devoid of any screens or lights when you’re ready for bed.
- Limit caffeine: Cut out caffeinated beverages for at least six hours before bedtime so the caffeine doesn’t interfere with your body’s circadian rhythm.
Your sleep system should get an A+ this year!
You wouldn’t send your child to school with no school supplies, so why are you going to bed every night without the tools you need for the perfect sleep? Mattress Warehouse offers all the sleep accessories your bedroom requires, so your sleep routine can earn a good grade this year!
Our sleep scientists use technology to analyze your unique sleep style and determine the perfect mattress for you. Through the bedMATCH process, Mattress Warehouse can identify the optimal postural support and pressure relief for your body and recommend the mattresses that are the best fit for you. Sleep should be as easy as ABC!