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How to adjust your child’s sleep pattern in time for school

Tired boy falling asleep at school because he is not getting enough sleep at night

The school holidays can often mean later bedtimes and lazy sleep-ins. And it can take a little bit of time to get back into a good sleep routine once school starts.

If you want to hit the ground running in the first week of school you will need to start transitioning back into a good routine a little earlier – it will make things a whole lot easier for everyone.

We’ve compiled some tips to make sure that when the first day back to school comes around, the kids (and you!) are excited and ready, not tired and grumpy.

How to adjust your child’s sleep pattern so they’re ready for school

Getting up earlier on the first day of school can shock your child’s internal body clock, which dictates when they feel sleepy and when they wake up. Changing their bedtime all of sudden isn’t effective when it comes to performance at school. By gradually changing the time they are going to bed and waking up in the last week or two of the holidays, this shock can be avoided and school performance enhanced from the get-go.

Make their bedtime earlier gradually

Start by making their bedtime 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night, and waking them up a bit earlier each morning too. Start this process whenever is necessary so your kids have gone to bed at their normal school time for day or two before school starts. By doing this so gradually, your children won’t even notice they are suddenly going to bed an hour or two earlier than in the summer.

Keep similar patterns on the weekend

Keeping weekends to a similar schedule will also help your kids sleep well during the week when school starts again. For primary school aged children, the ideal amount of sleep needed is 10-11 hours each night. So if you usually get your kids up for school at 6:30am, they should start a ‘going to bed’ routine at around 7:30pm and be asleep by 8:30pm.

Have a proper sleep routine

It is important, no matter what time bedtime is, that children have a proper bedtime routine each night to calm them down before they fall asleep. If they are still energised right before bed, falling asleep is going to be incredibly difficult.

Following a simple routine like this will take the stress out of bedtime.

  • Have a bath or shower. A warm bath or shower can relax your child’s muscles and make their body more ready for sleep.
  • Put pyjamas on and finishing making their room ready for sleep. This may include something like arranging their favourite stuffed toy or blanket in their bed.
  • Read a book. Have your child pick out a favourite book to read, or have you read to them. Set them up in bed and read a prescribed amount of the book if it is long, or the whole book if it is short, and make sure they know that it is lights out after the book is done. This activity will calm them even more, and let their brain know that it is time to settle down for the night.
  • Lights out and go to sleep. After a kiss and cuddle, turn off their light and leave them to fall asleep. With all the calm and relaxing steps, they will, hopefully, be asleep in no time.

Limit noise and electronic devices before bedtime

During this routine, limit the amount of other noise in the house so it creates the atmosphere that everyone is going to sleep. Definitely don’t allow any electronic devices in this time, as the bright lights and sounds send the opposite message to your child’s brain to the calm mood you want.

Limit sugary foods or drinks

Limiting any sugary or caffeinated treats in the afternoon and evening will also aid with this routine. You can do the routine during the holidays, but if not, it is best to re-establish the routine at the same time as when you start bringing their bed-time earlier.

 

Following the ‘going to bed’ routine and making bed-time gradually earlier at the end of the holidays will make returning to school that much easier when it comes around – and will help get the family organised easier! A proper sleep routine is imperative to sending your kids back to school well-rested and ready to perform in class.

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