How to adjust your child's sleep schedule

7 tips for getting kids back on a sleep schedule for school


As summer break comes to an end, one important item that may be missing from your back-to-school checklist is resetting your child's sleep schedule.

Adjusting a kid's sleep schedule can take some time. The Children's Health℠ Sleep Center recommends beginning to readjust your child's sleep schedule at least a week or two before the first day of school.

7 tips to get back on a sleep schedule for school:

  1. Adjust your child's sleep schedule gradually.
  2. Wake your child around the same time every day, and within an hour of school wake time (ex: if school wake time is 7 a.m., wake them up by 8 a.m.).
  3. Make bedtime incrementally earlier, by 15 minutes every night.
  4. Restart the school-night bedtime routines that may have become relaxed over break. Start by scheduling consistent bath and pajama time, story time and other pre-bedtime activities as part of the nighttime adjustment process.
  5. Keep children physically active during the day, but focus on more relaxing, quiet activities in the hours between dinner and bedtime.
  6. Turn off electronics and decrease light exposure a minimum of two hours before bedtime.
  7. Children should not drink caffeine. For adolescents, if they do drink caffeine, limit it to the morning only. No caffeine should be consumed after noon, or it may interfere with the child's ability to sleep. This includes coffee, tea and soda.

How much sleep should children get each night?

Each child has individual sleep needs, but there are age-specific guidelines that can help you figure out how much sleep your child may need. Assess how much sleep your child needs by monitoring how many hours they sleep during the summer when sleep and wake times are relaxed. Keeping an eye on how many hours a night your child sleeps when they don't have a set wake-up time can give you an idea of how many hours of sleep they need.

You can also keep the following daily sleep guidelines in mind when setting your child's bedtime and wake up time:

  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours/day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12 to 16 hours (including naps) of sleep for any 24-hour period
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 13 hours (including naps) for every 24-hour period
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours (including naps) per 24-hour period
  • School-aged children (6-12 years): 9 to 12 hours of sleep (not including naps)
  • Teens: 8 to 10 hours per 24-hour period

Learn more

Children's Health is by your side as your child prepares for a new year at school. See more tips and advice for making this school year a healthy and happy one.

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