Back to School Bedtime

Summer break is an enjoyable and busy time for many young children and pre-teens. With the longer daylight hours, extended playtime often intrude into bedtime hours. For parents, getting your children back in the routine of school night bedtime is always a challenge.

Here are a few tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help ease your child into getting to bed on time:

  • About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a school appropriate sleep schedule. Every night, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time. Working in 10-15 minute segments over two weeks is a good plan Make sure that when school starts, your kids will wake up with the amount of sleep they need for their age-group.
  • Maintain sleep schedule – Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use the weekend to “catch up on sleep.”
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bedtime, start a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or a reading time (for older children).
  • Limit television, video games, and other electronic distractions or stimulations close to bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals close to bedtime – a heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep. And bedtime means time to turn off the television, computer, phone and tablet, and leave them off until the next morning.  This is particularly important for teens that may be over-stimulated by texting or other activities associated with their phone usage.
  • Avoid caffeine – sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited after noon, and especially at night. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine six hours before bedtime because the caffeine can interrupt your child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment – dark room, comfortable bed, and a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Be a role model – Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.

The recommended amount of sleep for elementary school children is 10-12 hours per night. Pre-teen through high school children are recommended to sleep 9-11 hours per night.

Please remember that this is only a guide and your child may require more sleep. As a parent, the most important thing you can do for your child’s sleep is create consistency and a clear message that “sleep is important!”