Getting Your Child Into a Better Sleep Routine for School

September 1, 2020

Increased screen time, staying up late, and sleeping in late have become the daily norm for many children since the pandemic began. While some children may be getting more sleep, others struggle with disrupted schedules and stress as a result.

A restful night’s sleep is essential for many aspects of a child’s well-being, from improved attention spans, behavior, learning, and memory, to overall mental health and a stronger immune system.

As the start of the school year is now upon us, parents may need to tweak children’s nighttime routines so they can be ready to jump back into the swing of things well-rested and ready to learn.

With school-age children it is important to talk with them about the sleep schedule changes you are making. Because they are fully aware that they have had the luxury of a later bedtime over the last few months, it is important for them to understand why it is being changed.

There are several things parents can do to induce a restful night’s sleep:

1. Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime—The blue light that electronics emit can delay the onset of melatonin, which may make it more difficult to fall asleep.
2. Create a calm and soothing bedroom—Ensure a comfortable temperature that is not too hot or too cold. Consider blackout curtains to keep sunlight out.
3. Maintain a healthy diet— Avoid sugary food and caffeine prior to sleep. Regularly eating well and exercising are crucial in setting the tone for a restful night’s sleep.
4. Set a predictable bedtime routine—Be sure the nightly routine includes snuggles and a story to help your child fall asleep more easily.

Sleep needs vary from person to person, depending on age. According to the CDC, the breakdown is as follows:

Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
Infants (4–12 months): 12–16 hours
Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
School age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours
Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
Adult (18–60 years): 7+ hours

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