For many parents, bedtime becomes slightly more flexible in the summer months and as a new school year begins those early mornings seems even earlier. While I'll applaud those parents that manage to keep their kids on a school sleep schedule all year long, for the rest of us that first week is often a battle to get kids to go to sleep, stay asleep, and then wake up all at the right times. The question then becomes: is there an easier way to deal with kids that won't go to sleep for back-to-school? Maybe, you can certainly try these tips.
Start early. Ideally, you should start trying to regain that school sleep schedule before school actually starts. If you slowly move bedtime back to an earlier hour and give wake-up calls earlier as well, the transition goes much smoother.
Know how much sleep your child needs. Not all kids need the same amount of sleep. If you're trying to make your child sleep for too long, of course he or she will wake up earlier than necessary and then likely feel tired before bedtime and nap-which messes everything up. Start by looking up average sleep levels for kids in your child's age range, and then compare that with his or her typical sleep habits previously in the summer if they were unregulated. This will give you a good idea of where to set bedtimes and wake-up times.
Be consistent. Next, don't allow a drastically different weekend sleep routine. While many parents let their kids stay up a bit later on the weekends, try to avoid all-nighters followed by mid-day snooze fests.
Prepare your kids for sleep. There are a few things that can make falling asleep harder on children, including caffeine, large meals, snacks high in carbs or sugar, and high-energy activities. Be sure that your daily schedule sets dinner time well before bedtime, avoid desserts too close to bedtime, and end the day in a relaxing, calm way.
Use the light. The brain relies on light to gauge when to go to bed and when to wake up, use that to your advantage. Start lowering light levels close to bedtime, eliminate as much light at bedtime, and then provide bright light in the morning.
Go to bed yourself. You certainly don't have to actually go to sleep, but if there are people about the house being active, your child is less likely to go to sleep. Younger kids in particular worry they are missing something after they go to bed. It can be helpful to retreat to your room with the door shut, so it's "bedtime" for everyone, until your child falls asleep.
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