Back-to-School & Sleep: 3 Tips for Calm & Focused Kids
We’re days away from starting a new school year and for many families, the transition from summer break to stricter schooling routines can be challenging. While settling back into a healthy sleep schedule for your little one may not be top of mind as much as school supplies & carpool planning, good sleep is critical for success in school.
According to Sleep Foundation, research shows that “without enough sleep, children and teens can have problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving.” Lack of sleep can also negatively impact their emotions & behavior. Needless to say, making sleep & bedtime a priority is necessary for kids to succeed & thrive at school.
With the help of national nonprofit, Pajama Program, and their Good Night Advisory Council, experts in children’s sleep and bedtime, we’ve put together 3 sleep tips to help you navigate the transition from summer vacation back to school.
1. Ease into the transition
Good Night Advisory Council member, Ronald Chervin, MD, MS, Director of Michigan Medicine Sleep Disorders Centers says, “Consider gradual adjustment – over a week or two prior to the first day of school – to very regular daily wake times and bedtimes.” Easing into the process often works better than making a big, sudden shift. Try moving bedtime and wake time earlier by 15 minutes every day until your child’s sleep and wake schedule is back on track for school. Then try to stick to that sleep schedule every day, even on the weekends.
“Consider gradual adjustment – over a week or two prior to the first day of school – to very regular daily wake times and bedtimes.”
2. Continue to take advantage of time outdoors
Enjoy the warm weather these last few weeks of summer and be sure to get your child outside in the morning for plenty of fresh air, bright sunlight, and physical activity. Time spent outdoors helps regulate your child’s body clock (circadian rhythm). When evening comes, dim the lights, close the blinds or curtains, and turn off screens. When it’s dark, your child’s body will naturally produce the hormone melatonin. This will help them feel sleepy and ready for bed. The daytime exercise will also make it easier for your child to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
3. Make bedtime a cozy routine to look forward to with a weighted blanket
Ending children’s playtime or turning off their screens can pose as difficult at first, but parents can set a positive tone for bedtime. Enjoy quiet activities with your little one like reading or listening to calming music while snuggling under a weighted blanket. The team at Pajama Program notes, “Time spent winding down and bonding is a positive experience that children and caregivers alike can look forward to each night. The bonus is that when calm, screen-free activities are part of a regular bedtime routine – just like changing into pajamas and washing up – they help your child’s body and brain relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.”
"Time spent winding down and bonding is a positive experience that children and caregivers alike can look forward to each night. The bonus is that when calm, screen-free activities are part of a regular bedtime routine – just like changing into pajamas and washing up – they help your child’s body and brain relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.”
Preparing children for the school year is easier said than done, but we hope these sleep tips will help your child blossom throughout the upcoming school year & beyond.
Pajama Program's mission is to promote and support a comforting bedtime routine and healthy sleep for children to help them thrive. To learn more about their efforts to provide new pajamas and books, sleep health education, and caring connections for children facing adversity and their caregivers, visit pajamaprogram.org.
Here's to Good Nights for Good Days for all children, everywhere.