Heading back to school after the summer holidays can be problematic when it comes to bedtime routines. With lighter evenings, summer holidays, and your family enjoying more free time, your kids have likely been staying up later than usual. Clearly, this may have caused some issues for the back-to-school period — whether they’re teens or toddlers! But all is not lost. Getting a good night’s sleep will help make the return to term-time that little bit easier, so join us as we explore sleep routines and bedtime tips.
How to fix your kid’s sleeping schedule for school
We spoke to sleep expert Dr. Robert Rosenberg for his advice on re-establishing your kid’s bedtime routine.
- Gradually change your child’s sleep schedule – A few weeks before school starts, try to make bedtime and wake time 15 minutes earlier each day. This will help them get up on time at a steadier pace. Once you have established a sleep schedule that works, make sure you stick to it.
- Re-establish a bedtime routine – Work with your children to find a relaxing bedtime routine that helps them nod off in no time. Bedtime stories, quiet time, and other calming activities such as listening to relaxing music will help your youngster unwind from a hectic day of playing or seeing friends.
- Get to know how much sleep your child needs – Children of different ages require different amounts of sleep. For example, 1 to 5-year-olds need around 11 hours whereas teenagers function best with 9 hours. As everyone is different, check-in with your little one to see how they’re feeling after a night’s rest. Perhaps they need a bit more sleep or even a little less.
- Avoiding blue light before bed – Try to turn off all sources of blue light 60 to 90 minutes before your child’s bedtime as this can help them to fall asleep faster. This includes electronic devices such as televisions, tablets, and mobile phones.
- Keep your little one’s bedroom at a comfortable temperature – It is recommended that around 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit) is the ideal sleeping temperature.
- Eliminate your child’s caffeine consumption – Avoid giving your child coffee-based drinks, dark chocolate, and soft drinks as this will help them to enjoy an interrupted night’s sleep.
Night-time routines for school
Establishing a night-time routine that you and your child can stick to will go a long way when it comes to taking away the stress of heading back to school. Here are some things you can try to make bedtime a lot easier:
Prepare for school the night before
Completing tasks such as preparing packed lunches, laying out uniforms, and sharpening pencils will help to ensure both you and your little one can get a nice relaxed night’s sleep. Making sure you are fully prepared for the big day ahead will also ease those busy school morning runs.
Bath time before bed
After a busy day of playing, shouting, and jumping around, your little one will most likely be in need of a nice warm bath to unwind. Having time to relax before bed will help your child to fall asleep quickly and more easily. Once they have nodded off, why not run a bubble bath for yourself?
Have an early night
Starting your bedtime routine earlier will help your family to establish a stress-free evening. Try to avoid stimulating activities after dinnertime like rough play and instead encourage calming ones such as colouring in. The calmer your kids feel towards bedtime, the sooner they’ll start to feel sleepy. Putting your child to bed early is important to make sure they can get enough sleep.
Try new things
Bedtime routines aren’t always easy. If your child is finding it hard to get into a routine or struggling to stick to it, trying some new relaxing activities may help to have them drifting off in minutes. Stretching, encouraging them to talk about their day, or saying goodnights are components to help your child know bedtime is coming, making them feel sleepy.
Getting back into a routine or starting a new one can be challenging. Sticking with it and knowing you will get through will help establish a sleep schedule resulting in peaceful nights and stress-free mornings.
Dos and Don’ts for Bedtime Routines
It’s all well and good promoting the benefits of bedtime routine but as any parent will know, implementing them (and sticking to them) is a different story. To ensure you are given the best chance at success, consider the following tips:
- Be consistent: As difficult as it may be at the start, being consistent with your little one’s sleep routine is key to success. So, ensure you don’t chop and change the process and within a couple of attempts you’ll notice your youngster gets used to their routine.Perhaps surprisingly, consistency is just as crucial for teenagers. Going to sleep at the same time each evening creates good routines and allows the body to settle into its circadian rhythm. For more information, check out our podcast on how routine affects sleep.
- Start early: The smaller the changes and the earlier you start, the more time you have to adapt and get your child used to their new routine. The earlier through the summer holidays you start implementing a routine, the less of a change it will be to your youngsters. This usually means they’ll be less likely to cause a fuss when it comes to bedtime.
- Respect their opinions: It’s a good idea to involve your children in decisions around their sleep routines. Ask what kind of bedtime activities they appreciate and adapt the routine with their thoughts in mind. By giving them a sense of authority with their sleep routine, they’re more likely to be open to the idea of giving it a go.
What’s your little one’s bedtime routine? Let us know in the comments below.