Back to school means back to a regular routine. These back to school sleep tips will help your child succeed in school and beyond.

Understand that school-age kids need 10-12 hours of sleep to be at their best.

Most parents know that their children need good sleep, but many don’t know exactly how much. Missing as little as 30 minutes of sleep time can have a real impact on your child’s mood, attention span, and overall health. Some kindergartners who are adjusting to a full day of school may even need a little MORE sleep than they did before!

Figure out what time your child needs to be awake to get ready for school, or the time they naturally wake if that is earlier. Subtract 10-12 hours from that time(less for older kids, more for younger). Now you have an idea of a good bedtime.

Recognize when your child is overtired.

One reason it’s difficult to know when our kids aren’t getting enough sleep is that tired children don’t necessarily slow down the way we do. Instead, they can seem “wired”.  They will act the opposite of what we think tired looks like, resisting bedtime and becoming more active rather than less. If your child seems hyper before bedtime, that’s a good cue to move the time for lights-out earlier.

No electronics within an hour before bedtime.

Electronic screens emit blue light which halts the release of melatonin, the “sleep hormone”. A television across the room might be ok up until 30 minutes before. But computers and mobile devices that are naturally positioned closer to the face should be avoided completely.

Avoid weekend hangovers.

As tempting as it may be to sleep later on the weekends, it will backfire in the long run. You can give a little leeway, such as 30 minutes later for bedtime and wake time from Friday night to Sunday morning. Anything more will led to disturbed sleep rhythms throughout the week.

Establish clear rules and expectations regarding bedtime and stick to them.

Be very clear and firm on this point. It helps to have clocks clearly visible in any areas of the house where you spend time in the evening. School-aged children can use a sleep clock which changes color at bedtime as well as toddlers. Preschoolers and younger elementary-aged children can make learning about sleep rules into a creative experience.

Get more back to school sleep tips.

Want more tools to prepare for the school year, including specific steps to adjust your family’s sleep schedule? Read another list of back to school sleep tips here.

Sasha Carr

Dr. Sasha Carr is a psychologist and child sleep expert who has helped over 1000 families get healthier sleep. Dr. Carr serves as a faculty member of the Family Sleep Institute and is the author of Putting Bungee to Bed, a bedtime picture book aimed at helping children be better sleepers. You can learn more about her services here.

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