During the summer, children’s bedtime routine often goes out the window. In order for your kids to be well rested when school starts, it’s important to reintroduce a routine that provides them with enough sleep for their needs, and to maintain it throughout the school year.
Gradually re-establish a routine
About two weeks before kids head back to school, gradually bring them back to a school-appropriate sleep schedule. You can make the changes in increments of 15 to 30 minutes per day.
The more gradual the changes are, the easier it will be to re-establish the routine, and the fewer conflicts you will have, especially with older kids.
Make sure kids sleep enough for their age group
Sleep needs vary depending on age. We usually recommend:
- 10 to 13 hours of sleep for preschool children (ages 3 to 5)
- 9 to 11 hours for kids in elementary school (ages 6 to 13)
- 8 to 10 hours for teenagers (ages 14 to 17)
You may need to adapt these guidelines to your child’s needs. Some kids need more or less sleep than their friends of the same age.
Set aside some quiet time before bed, so that your children can be calm before going to bed. This is a good time for a bath or shower, reading, or listening to music, as these activities bring about the sense of relaxation required for sleep.
- In the hours leading up to bedtime, avoid stimulating activities such as watching television, playing video games, or playing hide and seek.
- Make sure there are no electronic devices in your kids’ bedrooms, to avoid them sneaking in extra play time!
- Since digestion can hinder sleep, make sure dinner is at least two hours before sleep.
- Make sure your kids don’t drink after dinner; otherwise they may need to go to the bathroom during the night. Ideally, they should never drink any beverages containing caffeine, such as colas. Keep in mind that caffeine can affect sleep for up to six hours after consumption.
Maintain a stable bedtime routine every day of the week, including on weekends and on holidays.