After a summer of having fun in the sun and staying up late, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things for the new school year. Children who are sleep deprived are more likely to have difficult time learning, paying attention, be overweight or to exhibit symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The sooner your child readjusts to a “school time” sleep schedule, the better he/or she will feel during early morning classes.
Use these tips to help ease your child into a sleep schedule before school starts, and to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the school year:
Start a sleep schedule as soon as possible. Ideally, 2 weeks before school starts. Slowly start to set an earlier bedtime and every morning set an earlier wake up time. Take into account how many hours of sleep your child needs for his/or her age group.
Maintain the new sleep schedule. Stick with it, even on the weekends. Don’t use any days for “catch up sleep.”
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Start a “quiet time” before bedtime. The routine should include relaxing activities such as a bath and a bed time story or a reading time for older kids.
Limit electronics before bed. Turn off TVs, video games, computers, and etc.
Start dinner earlier. Avoid big meals too close to bedtime, they may prevent your child from falling asleep.
Cut out caffeine in the evenings. Sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited in the afternoons and definitely skipped all together in the evenings. A good rule is no caffeine 6 hours before bed. Caffeine can disrupt natural sleep patterns.
Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment. Darken the room, keep it cool and try removing electronics from the bedroom to a different location.
Be a role model. Establish your own regular sleep routine. Promote healthy sleep throughout the household.