Back-to-school is upon us! As much as we parents may have enjoyed the fun of summer, many of us are ready for a change. Yet none of us look forward to tired, cranky and disorganized mornings as our kids (and we!) adjust to a regular school routine. What can we do to ease the transition from lazy-hazy summer to hit-the-books fall?
Here are 5 tips for back-to-school sleep success:
1. Start adjusting your family’s bedtimes and, more importantly, wake times now, before school starts.
Think first about what time your kids will need to wake up to get ready for school. Begin waking them at that time for at least a few days before school starts. Start with the wake time first, then pull bedtime earlier a little more gradually. Let’s say your kids have been going to bed at 9 and waking at 8, but they’ll need to be up for school at 7. Wake them tomorrow at 7, and send them to bed at 8:30. The next day they’ll wake at 7 and go to bed at 8:15, and the day after, bedtime will be at 8.
2. Practice getting organized in the morning.
Start getting working with them to have clothes and other supplies laid out and ready for the morning the night before. After rising, have them get going with getting ready for the day right away. They’ll need to get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth, and do whatever else will need to get done once school starts. But for now, as soon as they’ve done what they need to do, they get to goof off and do something fun. Hey, it’s still summer!
3. Expose everyone to plenty of bright daylight as soon as possible after rising at the new early time.
Also begin drawing curtains and lowering indoor lights during the hour before bedtime. Controlling exposure to light will help everyone’s bodies adjust to the new sleep schedule by regulating melatonin, the main sleep hormone.
4. Implement a rule to power down all electronics at least one hour before the target school-night bedtime.
Whenever possible, put your own electronics away until after your kids go to bed. It will set a good example and also help you stay focused on having quality wind-down time with your kids.
5. Consider making some updates to your family’s bedding if your budget allows.
Much like new clothes and school supplies, some new pillows and/or sheets can help kids make a fresh start. It will also help send the message that sleep is an important part of having a successful new school year.
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