The back-to-school ads are filling the airwaves even though summer isn't quite over yet. Getting a jump on school supplies is not the only preparation you need to do to get your kids ready for school. According to Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Daniel Rauch, MD, "one of the hardest transitions for children and parents about the start of school is simply waking up.” Dr. Rauch offers tips on how parents can help their kids adjust to a healthier sleep pattern to start the school year off right.
Reprogramming your internal clock for earlier wakeup times is comparable to adjusting to a different time zone. “Switching from a lazy summer schedule of late nights and sleeping in to early morning alarms is a necessary adjustment that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Make slow, steady adjustments to your child’s bedtime by about 30-60 minutes per day. If your kids are waking up at 10 AM now and need to be up at 6 AM for the school year, you will need at least a week to slowly move their bedtime and wake-up time.
Practice better sleep hygiene
Use this opportunity to start reinforcing good bedtime habits with a routine. This is a must for preschool aged children, but can be beneficial for older children as they try to unwind from their day.
Turn off the devices
Blue light from our screens stimulates our brains and keeps us awake. Some newer devices adjust the light to be less stimulating at night, but the best advice is to turn it off at least an hour before bedtime.
Maintain a consistent schedule
Remember to keep the same sleep schedule every day of the week – including weekends. Sleeping in on the weekends can be a huge problem, especially for teenagers during the school year. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between a Sunday morning and a Monday morning.
Know when to ask for help
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), childhood sleep guidelines, most school aged children should get between nine and eleven hours of sleep. If your child is still having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, especially if it is beginning to disrupt their day, consult with his or her pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.