During the summer, it’s easy to slip into a more relaxed way of living. Many of us get up a little later in the morning and might ease up a little at bedtime. But when it’s time to go back to school, creating a healthy sleep routine is crucial. In fact, it’s essential for children to get good, quality sleep for better brain function and memory retention. However, suddenly changing routines can be a challenge, especially for children. Don’t sleep on establishing a back-to-school routine to ensure your little ones are ready for learning.
How Much Sleep They Need Might Surprise You
It seems like kids wake up ready to go and move nonstop for as long as you let them. But actually, their growing bodies and brains need quite a bit of sleep. In fact, the way we sleep and the number of hours we need on average change throughout our lives. The youngest tots preparing for preschool and kindergarten should tuck in for 10-13 hours of sleep every night. With early start times for many students, this can mean heading to bed by 8 or 9 p.m. at the latest.
As little ones get older, they usually do well with a little less sleep. Until the age of 13, 9-11 hours of sleep is good for most kids. And even though many teens seem to fall in love with their beds, they are often good to go with a solid 8-10 hours each night.
Take Small Steps for Big Changes
If your child is staying up late or sleeping long past when that first bell will be, don’t fret, but do start as soon as possible. Making changes to a sleep schedule won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to slowly have your child wake up a bit earlier and head to bed a bit earlier to increase the chances of success. Try 15-minute increment adjustments.
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Set the Stage for Success
Sometimes getting kids to wind down at night is the sticking point. Remember that many things can distract and stimulate kids, so it’s essential to set a calm and relaxing scene to make it easier for them to unwind. For little ones especially, focusing on the routine of bath time, brushing teeth, and reading a book can help give their brains and bodies cues that it’s time to rest. For older kids and teens, routines are still important but might involve shutting off electronics by a specific time. In addition, limiting caffeine can also help older kids relax and feel more tired when bedtime rolls around.
Finally, remember that how you handle bedtime can impact your child’s sleep more than you think. You might need to lower the volume of the TV or turn it off altogether for a while. If reading is part of your kid’s bedtime routine, you could incorporate it into yours, too. And if you’re trying to make changes to your child’s bedtime, stick with it. Remember, it can take some time, and you may have to make tiny changes each day to get where you ultimately want to be.
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