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Transitioning kids into a Back-to-School Sleep Routine

Posted in Medshield Wellness   |   January 11th, 2020

The best way to prepare your children for a back-to-school sleep schedule is by beginning early — 10 days to two weeks early, to be exact. If you don’t have that much time left between now and your kids’ first day, don’t fret — just start as soon as you can.

Progressively wake your kids 15 minutes earlier each morning and put them to bed 15 minutes earlier than the previous day. This will help you work toward having them ready and adjusted to sleeping the right amount while still waking up for school at the correct time each morning.

Beginning this process before the school year starts can allow your children to adjust to the back-to-school sleep schedule prior to the first day. That way, when the first day of school arrives, your kids can wake up rejuvenated and ready to put their mind to the test.

Tips to Keep Healthy Sleep Habits

Getting back on track isn’t the only challenge when it comes to school year sleep schedules — you also have to maintain good sleep habits to maximize sleep time. Here are some tips to help you establish and keep a healthy sleep schedule for your kids.

1. Be consistent.

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule without changes, even on weekends, is really helpful. It can even help keep kids’ circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock) regulated.

2. Maintain a soothing bedtime routine to wind down and relax.

A consistent and relaxing bedtime routine will help signal to your children’s bodies that it’s time to sleep. Establishing “quiet time,” reading a book, hearing a bedtime story, and performing other relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or shower can help kids prepare for bed.

3. Limit screen time before bed.

Turn off the TV and other electronics an hour before bed and keep their mobile devices outside the bedroom. Studies show that the light of screens (cell phones, tablets, laptops) can confuse our bodies into thinking it’s still light outside, making it harder to fall asleep.

4. Create a calm sleep environment.

Having an environment conducive to sleep makes a huge difference for kids. That means making sure kids have a dark and quiet room, a comfortable bed, and a comfortable room temperature. White noise machines or a fan can also be effective in soothing your kids to sleep by creating a consistent and rhythmic sound. Playing soft, calming music (think classical) can also help them to sleep.

5. No caffeine within six hours of bedtime.

This includes sodas and other caffeinated beverages that can interrupt a child’s natural sleeping patterns.

6. Avoid big meals before bedtime.

Meals with oversized portions or spicy foods can cause discomfort from indigestion and make it hard for kids to fall asleep.

7. Exercise after school.

Physical activity in the afternoon can help ensure a good night’s sleep by tiring kids out during the day. Some kids find it harder to sleep if they exercise too close to bedtime, so make sure to encourage exercise when it works best for them.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Getting enough sleep is critical for kids, especially during the school year. Not only is sleep important for academic success, but a number of studies have shown a connection between sleep deprivation and health complications.

Sleep is an incredibly important part of a keeping healthy and performing well in school. Lack of sleep has been connected to:

  • greater risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression
  • hyperactivity, irritability and impulsivity
  • problems with skills needed for learning (attention, concentration, memory, problem-solving and decision-making)

How Much Sleep Do They Really Need?

The transition back to school and homework can be trying enough without adding exhaustion into the mix. So ensure that your kids are sleeping enough. But exactly bow much sleep is enough?

The amount of sleep a child needs may vary, depending on your child and their individual needs. Doctor’s recommend these ranges for how much sleep children should get during a 24-hour period:

  • Ages 4–12 months: 12–16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1–2 years: 11–14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3–5 years: 10–13 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 6–12 years: 9–12 hours
  • Ages 13–18 years: 8–10 hours

Transitioning from a school holiday sleep schedule to a back-to-school sleep schedule doesn’t have to be torture. Starting ASAP, practicing good sleep habits, and ensuring you kids get enough sleep will help make waking up on the first day of school — and every day after that — easier for your kids and for you.

Sources:

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute(Why Is Sleep Important?)National Sleep Foundation(Children and Sleep)Raising Children Network(School-age sleep: what to expect)Sleep Health Foundation(Sleep Needs Across The Lifespan)National Sleep Foundation(Backgrounder: Later school start times)

DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog post is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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