Back To School:
How To Adjust Your Kids' Sleeping Schedules
Summer is the best time for kids to get their sleep. Without the early morning school bell, they can get up when they want and go to sleep when a day of rough housing at the pool wears them out. But as the first day of school approaches, they have to put away their beach toys and make some changes to get the most out of school. Here are 4 tips to adjust your kids' sleeping schedules for school.
A week before the first day of school, start enforcing bed and wake-up times, but don't make all the changes at once. Have your kids go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and get up 15 minutes earlier each day. Add 15 minutes each day until they reach their school year bed and wake-up times. Adjusting to sleep-time changes can be unhealthy and 15 minutes each night leading up to the first day of school helps kids ease into the school year without feeling drained.
To help us sleep, our bodies produce melatonin which helps regulate sleep. However, it is only produced in the dark. That means when we expose ourselves to light in the middle of the night, our melatonin production is disrupted and our sleep cycle is disturbed. Christmas lights during the holidays or a nighttime trip to the bright light of the bathroom may not be avoidable, but having the knowledge of the relationship between melatonin and light may help you and your children work around it so they can sleep when school rolls around. You can also help your kids adjust to new wake-up times is to keep the lights bright until it's time to go to bed and keep their bedrooms dark until it's time to get up.
When your kids go down for the night, their electronic devices should, too. All the communication on social media, email and texts, stimulates our brains, making it difficult to relax and fall into a gentle slumber. Not only can the stimulation disrupt sleep, but the little lights they emit to make things readable can stop the production of melatonin your kids need to get rest.
Routine & Rules
For younger kids, having regular nighttime and sleep routines help them sleep better and sticking to the routine will help get them adjusted to their new school sleep schedules. We know kids need sleep, but setting up a regular sleep pattern can help them be productive students and productive adults. Researchers with the UK Millennium Cohort Study found children with varying bedtimes scored lower on intellectual tests than children with steady bedtimes, suggesting having irregular bedtimes at an early age can stunt cognitive development. Whether you're getting your children ready for the school year or preparing them for productive lives, regular bedtimes and routines puts them on a positive path for sleeping and its benefits.