Dreaming of academic success for your little scholar? Sleep is a crucial component to a positive school experience.
As summer officially draws to a close and the days grow shorter and colder, the sleeping schedule may have slacked. When school is in session, that schedule snaps back and can really catch kids by surprise. If they are used to going to sleep at 9:00 and now bedtime is 7:30, you might be looking at a power war.
And lest we forget, kids need more sleep than adults, with preschoolers requiring 10-14 hours per night1. They need that time for specific brain function development, and growth, so there’s no better time than the present to coax everyone into bed at a reasonable hour, to hopefully wake up feeling refreshed and ready for each day. Here are a few little tidbits to get you there:
- Gradually ease bedtime forward. Do what parents have always done and put them down with the sun, just scooting back by 10 minutes or so. That won’t work in the winter when it’s dark at 5:00pm, but in the autumn, it can be one signal to the younger kids that it’s bedtime.
- Wind down after dinner. That just means reducing down stimulating activities like playing on the tablet, listening to loud music, or watching TV.
- Form a regular routine. Even the teens need to stick to a uniform program so that the younger ones don’t protest. This helps set the body’s circadian rhythms that help our senses distinguish when it’s time to be awake from when it’s time to sleep.
- Hold yourself to a reasonable schedule too. That also goes for adults, because no one benefits if you are stuck in third gear in the morning. It’s tempting to stay up and watch grown up TV, but consider taking a bath, stretching, or reading as sleep-prep alternatives.
- Do a relaxation exercise. If your little ones have trouble winding down, do a breathing exercise with them and make a game out of it. Breathing to a count of four, or slow finger counting will give them something to focus on, but it will also relax them. Again, this is an easy habit that the whole family can do.
You don’t have to be a disciplinarian about it, but creating a calm environment with daily practices will eventually get everyone’s sleep habits to align. You’ll not only be surprised by how much better everyone feels and gets along as a family when they are getting enough sleep, but the kids will be poised for a fantastic new school year. Sweet dreams!