As your family's extended break from school comes to an end, one important item that may be missing from your back-to-school checklist is adjusting your child's sleep schedule.
Transitioning your student from a relaxed break-time schedule to a routine school-night schedule can take some time. The Children's Health℠ Sleep Center recommends beginning to adjust your child's sleep schedule at least a week or two prior to the first day of school.
7 tips for adjusting your child's sleep schedule for school:
- Adjust your child's sleep schedule gradually.
- Wake your child up around the same time every morning, and close to school wake time (i.e. if school wake time is 7 a.m., wake them up by 8 a.m.).
- Make bedtime earlier incrementally, by 15 minutes every night.
- Begin reinstating 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.
- Keep children physically active during the day, but wind down activities in the evening.
- Turn off electronics and decrease light exposure a minimum of two hours before bedtime.
- 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, but also any other caffeinated beverage like tea and soda.
How much sleep should children get each night?
Each child is unique and has individual sleep needs, but there are age -specific guidelines that can help you figure out how much sleep your child may need. A good way to assess how much sleep your child needs is to monitor how many hours on average they sleep during the summer when sleep and wake times are relaxed.
You can also keep the following guidelines in mind when setting your student'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
- Toddler (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
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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