Sierra Vista parents are preparing to send their kids back to school. That includes earlier bedtimes so kids can wake up refreshed and ready to learn. Of course, after three months of longer days contributing to later bedtimes, that can be a struggle. How can your ease into a healthy back-to-school sleep schedule? Here are a few tips.
Take Baby Steps
Try an incremental approach. Move bedtime up by 15 minutes a day preferably over a week. This will help kids adjust to an earlier wake-up time. How much sleep do kids need? A good rule of thumb is 10 to 12 hours for kids under 12 and 9 to 10 hours for high school students.
Consistency is Key
If you’ve ever slept in on the weekends, you know how hard Mondays can be. Children are the same. They need consistent sleep schedules to keep their internal clocks on track. Even on the weekends, kids should conform to their school week schedules. You may have to deal with a bit of whining, but kids adjust soon enough.
A tired child goes to bed sooner and sleeps better. If your kids love sports, they are probably already signed up for after-school activities. If your kids would rather head to art or music lessons, no worries. An evening walk or bike ride after dinner promotes familial bonding, settles stomachs and tires kids out.
Limit Screen Time
Screens are not conducive to a good night’s rest. Limit your child’s time on computers, tablets and phones. Most experts agree that devices and televisions be turned off two hours before bedtime. As most homework is done on computers these days, encourage kids to get it done as soon as they get home.
Take Time to Wind Down
Everyone in the family can benefit from a wind-down routine. Warm baths or showers, a good book and quiet time are all most kids need to encourage sleep. Avoid exercise, sugar and caffeine just before bed.
Keep the Room Comfortable
No one can sleep in a room that’s too hot or too cold. Keeping the temperature at a cool 72 degrees is optimal. Use blackout curtains to keep light from filtering in. Young children should have a nightlight to keep them from thinking monsters live under the bed. If your child is a light sleeper, consider purchasing a white noise machine.
Model Good Habits
Model your own good sleep routine and kids will join you. Let them see you relaxing with a good book, setting your alarm and going to bed early. You don’t have to go to bed as early as your preschooler (although we wouldn’t blame you if you did), but they should see you putting on comfortable clothes or pajamas to get ready for bed.