The Village - Back to school sleep tips

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds
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FAMILY

Back to school sleep tips

By Rosalee Lahaie Hera

If your kids’ sleep has gone off track during the summer, you are not alone. Many parents and caregivers take a more relaxed approach to routines during the summer, relishing in the longer, warmer days. Summer days also bring more day trips, travel and outdoor time, and as a result, later bedtimes and later morning wake-up times.

Those mornings of rushing out the door to get to school on time may seem like a distant dream, but they are just around the corner. Good news: there are a few simple tips that will help you transition from summer to school sleep smoothly and easily.

1. Involve and prepare your kids

Help your kids understand exactly when school will begin and what will happen leading up to then. That way, there are no surprises; and, anxiety about starting school and going to bed earlier will be minimized.

Many children benefit from visual calendars with a daily countdown, beginning about two weeks beforehand.

"It could take them several weeks to catch up on lost sleep if they’ve accumulated a sleep debt over the summer."

Create a few specific rules around what “lights out” will look like once school begins. Let them know exactly when electronics and books must be put away each night. Make sure they have a clock in their room, so they feel in control and accountable.

2. Get back to basics

For at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year, commit to getting back to your regular sleep routine. That way, your kiddos will be as well rested as possible heading back to school. If your kids have never been on a consistent sleep schedule before, this is your opportunity to start fresh.

Make sure your little ones are reaping the rewards of a sleep-conducive environment, age-appropriate schedule, consistent bedtime routine and independence. If most or all these areas need a tune-up prior to beginning school again, you’ll be happy you gave yourself enough time to make this happen.

It can be tempting to soak up all the remaining summer sunshine instead of giving yourself time to get sleep back on track, but children really do thrive on having a solid adjustment period prior to a big change like going back to school.

3. Shift bedtimes

Kids need a lot more sleep than adults do. Babies 3-12 months old need 14-15 hours per day, toddlers 1-3 years old need 12-14 hours per day, preschoolers 3-5 years old need 11-13 hours per day, and school-aged children 6-12 years old need 10-11 hours per day.

If bedtimes and morning wake-up times have gotten out of control during the summer and sleep totals are nowhere near these targets, you will need to shift schedules gradually so that your kids have time to adapt. It could take them several weeks to catch up on lost sleep if they’ve accumulated a sleep debt over the summer.

"I recommend shifting both their morning wake-up time and their bedtime by 15 minutes each day"

The best way to do this is by using a ‘fading’ approach. Let’s say your kids are waking up at 9 a.m. and going to bed at midnight, but you need them awake at 7 a.m. and in bed by 9 p.m. when school begins. In this case, I recommend shifting both their morning wake-up time and their bedtime by 15 minutes each day until you reach your desired schedule. This means waking them up earlier in the morning, so they feel tired enough for an earlier bedtime. Remember to shift dinner time and the start of bedtime routines accordingly, too.

These small daily changes are barely noticeable but add up over time.

4. Keep getting outside

All that outdoor air and natural light exposure have been extremely beneficial over the summer. In the fall, many parents and caregivers tend to abandon this in favour of lots of extracurricular activities instead. However, outside exercise is amazing for good sleep.

Leave yourself enough time to get to the park, go for a bike ride or a hike after school at least a few times per week. This will also help you stay on track with your evening and bedtime routines.

5. Stay consistent

Once you’ve gotten your kiddos back on track with a sleep schedule that makes best sense for your family, keep up the great work! A few slips here and there aren’t going to spell disaster, but the more consistent you can be, the more consistent their sleep will be too.

Rosalee Lahaie Hera is a Certified Pediatric & Newborn Sleep Consultant, a Certified Potty Training Consultant, and the founder of Baby Sleep Love. She’s also a mom to two beautiful little humans. Rosalee is a researcher at heart with a background in healthcare management and a passion for sleep science. She takes a highly analytical approach and uses proven, gentle methods to help families (like yours!) get the sleep they need. Rosalee is a big fan of fancy coffee and great food (both cooking it and eating it). You can connect with Rosalee on Facebook or Instagram.

FAMILY

Back to school sleep tips

By Rosalee Lahaie Hera

If your kids’ sleep has gone off track during the summer, you are not alone. Many parents and caregivers take a more relaxed approach to routines during the summer, relishing in the longer, warmer days. Summer days also bring more day trips, travel and outdoor time, and as a result, later bedtimes and later morning wake-up times.

Those mornings of rushing out the door to get to school on time may seem like a distant dream, but they are just around the corner. Good news: there are a few simple tips that will help you transition from summer to school sleep smoothly and easily.

1. Involve and prepare your kids

Help your kids understand exactly when school will begin and what will happen leading up to then. That way, there are no surprises; and, anxiety about starting school and going to bed earlier will be minimized.

Many children benefit from visual calendars with a daily countdown, beginning about two weeks beforehand.

"It could take them several weeks to catch up on lost sleep if they’ve accumulated a sleep debt over the summer."

Create a few specific rules around what “lights out” will look like once school begins. Let them know exactly when electronics and books must be put away each night. Make sure they have a clock in their room, so they feel in control and accountable.

2. Get back to basics

For at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year, commit to getting back to your regular sleep routine. That way, your kiddos will be as well rested as possible heading back to school. If your kids have never been on a consistent sleep schedule before, this is your opportunity to start fresh.

Make sure your little ones are reaping the rewards of a sleep-conducive environment, age-appropriate schedule, consistent bedtime routine and independence. If most or all these areas need a tune-up prior to beginning school again, you’ll be happy you gave yourself enough time to make this happen.

It can be tempting to soak up all the remaining summer sunshine instead of giving yourself time to get sleep back on track, but children really do thrive on having a solid adjustment period prior to a big change like going back to school.

3. Shift bedtimes

Kids need a lot more sleep than adults do. Babies 3-12 months old need 14-15 hours per day, toddlers 1-3 years old need 12-14 hours per day, preschoolers 3-5 years old need 11-13 hours per day, and school-aged children 6-12 years old need 10-11 hours per day.

If bedtimes and morning wake-up times have gotten out of control during the summer and sleep totals are nowhere near these targets, you will need to shift schedules gradually so that your kids have time to adapt. It could take them several weeks to catch up on lost sleep if they’ve accumulated a sleep debt over the summer.

"I recommend shifting both their morning wake-up time and their bedtime by 15 minutes each day"

The best way to do this is by using a ‘fading’ approach. Let’s say your kids are waking up at 9 a.m. and going to bed at midnight, but you need them awake at 7 a.m. and in bed by 9 p.m. when school begins. In this case, I recommend shifting both their morning wake-up time and their bedtime by 15 minutes each day until you reach your desired schedule. This means waking them up earlier in the morning, so they feel tired enough for an earlier bedtime. Remember to shift dinner time and the start of bedtime routines accordingly, too.

These small daily changes are barely noticeable but add up over time.

4. Keep getting outside

All that outdoor air and natural light exposure have been extremely beneficial over the summer. In the fall, many parents and caregivers tend to abandon this in favour of lots of extracurricular activities instead. However, outside exercise is amazing for good sleep.

Leave yourself enough time to get to the park, go for a bike ride or a hike after school at least a few times per week. This will also help you stay on track with your evening and bedtime routines.

5. Stay consistent

Once you’ve gotten your kiddos back on track with a sleep schedule that makes best sense for your family, keep up the great work! A few slips here and there aren’t going to spell disaster, but the more consistent you can be, the more consistent their sleep will be too.

Rosalee Lahaie Hera is a Certified Pediatric & Newborn Sleep Consultant, a Certified Potty Training Consultant, and the founder of Baby Sleep Love. She’s also a mom to two beautiful little humans. Rosalee is a researcher at heart with a background in healthcare management and a passion for sleep science. She takes a highly analytical approach and uses proven, gentle methods to help families (like yours!) get the sleep they need. Rosalee is a big fan of fancy coffee and great food (both cooking it and eating it). You can connect with Rosalee on Facebook or Instagram.

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