Is the new school year wreaking havoc on your child's sleep schedule? Time to get back to healthy sleep habits with these tips.
The summer holidays, with their long hours of daylight and unscheduled activities, can be hard for children to recover from – particularly if they’ve had irregular bedtimes and disrupted routines. Starting school can be a shock to your child’s system, as structured days with lots of learning and brain work can exhaust even the most conscientious of students. It’s critical to re-establish good sleep routines as early in the school year as possible, as lack of sleep can negatively impact children’s behaviours and ability to learn.
1. Gradually go to bed earlier
If your child is used to staying up late, start by setting their bedtime five to 10 minutes earlier, then gradually move it back to the time you want them to go to bed. Do this over several nights or a few weeks if possible, so your child has time to get used to the change.
2. Get organised before bed
There are few things worse than dealing with grumpy, tired children in the morning – so do as much as you can the night before, when they’re still fresh! Lay out uniforms, pack lunches, prepare backpacks, set the breakfast table with everything that doesn’t need refrigerating, and even put some toothpaste on their toothbrush ready for the morning.
3. Stick to the plan on weekends
Although it’s tempting to let your kids sleep in on the weekends, it’ll be better in the long run if you can stick to the same waking and sleeping schedule on Saturday and Sunday, too – then Monday won’t be such a struggle.
4. Set up a good sleep routine
Together with your child, develop an actionable sleep routine that they can follow each night. It might start with laying out tomorrow’s clothes, then a bath or shower, brushing teeth, reading a book together, and turning out the light. Write it down or create a picture chart and post it where it’s easy for your child to see and get used to.
5. No screen time
The light from devices like phones, tablets, computers, or TVs
can sabotage sleep. Research tells us that using electronic devices before bedtime can actually stimulate us rather than settle us, making it harder for children to fall asleep and stay asleep. Start cutting off device time two hours before bedtime. If this is too drastic, start by reducing screen time 30 minutes before bedtime, then 45 minutes, then an hour, and so on.