Anyone else finding wake ups getting later and routines getting a bit.....blurred? Even though it's only August, you may already be thinking about how to get your child's sleep back on track for when school starts. I don't know about you guys but I have definitely noticed our waking times getting later each day. During the Summer it is totally normal for routines to be relaxed with bedtimes and wake times later, but soon they will need to be back in the school swing of things and this means a return to a daily schedule. This transition can be tricky for children, especially if they have accumulated a sleep debt over the Summer with those late bedtimes.
How much sleep does my child need?
|Age (Years)||Time (Hours)|
Unfortunately, most school-aged children are not getting as much sleep as they need. Studies have shown that 57.8% of middle-school children are receiving insufficient sleep with nearly 12% reporting sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night (APTA, 2018). While getting 6 hours of sleep may sound like an absolute dream to most caregivers, students aged 6-12 who get less than 9 hours of sleep are not getting enough (CDC, 2020).
In a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, a team of researchers found that in addition to an easier adjustment to kindergarten, children who sleep at least 10 hours during the night on a regular basis demonstrated more success in emotional development, learning engagement, and academic performance across the kindergarten year (Campbell, 2022). Children who received less than this had the opposite effect.
What are some side-effects of children not getting enough sleep?
- Higher risk of Obesity - Problems with attention and behaviour
- Poor Mental Health (anxiety, depression)
So now that we know
7 Tips to Get Your Child's Sleep Ready for School
1) Early Bedtimes - Have you ever put your child down for sleep late and thought 'well, at least they'll sleep late in the morning' only for them to wake at their normal time or worse - earlier?! Many times the assumption is made that the later the bedtime, the later a child will sleep. Unfortunately, this is largely untrue and can lead to chronic overtiredness. If your child has been going to bed a bit on the late side, not to worry! This is totally fixable and can be done gradually. For example, if your child has been going to bed two hours later, start putting them to bed half an hour earlier, and moving it every few days.
2) Adjust Wake-up Times - Sleeping in late is not the same as going to bed early. It's that restorative nighttime sleep they need to be getting, as opposed to sleeping in late in the morning. Similarly to gradually making bedtimes early, the same can be done for wake-times. Start moving them 30 mins every few days until you've reached the time they should be waking for for school.
3) Darken their Room - The one thing that makes early bedtimes tricky during the Summer is how late it stays light out. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Summer and the sunshine but it definitely makes it harder for me to get my kidlets down and stay in bed in the morning (I now also shake my fist at fireworks and concerts, but that's a post for another time!).
We want your child's room DARK, even in the Summer. We're talking not even a sliver of light coming in. Black-out curtains are useful, but they generally still let light in on the sides. Cardboard, garbage bags, even aluminum foil can be used to block out those pesky rays.
Magic Tip: Aluminum foil also keeps the room cool - win-win!
4) Keep Regular Bedtimes - This might be tricky for some! I know it's tempting to let your little one stay up late on weekends or holidays, but the truth is that having inconsistent bed times on the weekends can lead to a cycle of overtiredness. They stay up late on the weekends, then have to wake up early for school on Monday, causing them to start the week overtired and continue to accumulate a sleep debt all week.
5) Have a Family Meeting - Before starting to adjust their wake-up times and bedtimes, sit down and have a family meeting to talk about the changes that are going to happen. Choose a time when your child is happy and relaxed. Make this a positive thing! We're all going to get more sleep so we can do more fun things!" Use a sticker chart if you think they would respond to that with small prizes at consistent intervals.
6) Establish a Bedtime Routine - A consistent bedtime routine gets their body ready for sleep. If your little one is struggling with their new routine, consider using a visual routine so they can follow along and feel secure in their new routine. Make the routine your own! Keeping it under 20 minutes is recommended so it does not overstimulate them and lead them into overtiredness.
7) No Electronics Before Bed - All screen time should be done AT LEAST an hour before bed so the blue light doesn't interfere with their sleep.
Magic Tip: Night light in your child's room? Blue, yellow, or white lights all interfere with sleep. If they need a night light, use warm light such as red or orange. These colours do not interfere with the production of melatonin (the sleepy hormone) the way the others do.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be kind to yourself!! Not every day will be perfect - especially during the Summer! There are always fun things to do; BBQs, fireworks, parties. Just keep these tips in mind and implement them when you can.
Need more help than these tips? Book a FREE Discovery Call today and see how I can help!
Campbell, M. (2022, July 21). Healthy sleep habits before kindergarten help children adjust to school. Penn State University. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.psu.edu/news/health-and-human-development/story/healthy-sleep-habits-kindergarten-help-children-adjust-school/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 10). Sleep in Middle and high school students. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/features/students-sleep.htm
CDC: Most middle and high school students don't get enough sleep. APTA. (2018, January 29). Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.apta.org/news/2018/01/29/cdc-most-middle-and-high-school-students-dont-get-enough-sleep#:~:text=Here’s%20what%20they%20found%3A,than%206%20hours%20a%20night