Returning to a School-Year Bedtime Routine: 5 Tips.
There are a million reasons why your kids’ sleep habits have likely changed over the course of the summer. From firefly sightings to backyard barbecues and the extra hours of daylight, there are a million reasons why your kids’ sleep patterns have likely changed over the course of the summer.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones, staying up later in the evening also means sleeping longer in the morning, which is the ideal scenario for every parent. But try not to become used to it too quickly.
The academic year has already begun for students in various regions of the United States. The rest of us are aware that our usual morning activities are just around the corner and are getting ready for them.
Even though my own kid needs to be at the bus stop at 7:20, he has been consistently sleeping in beyond 7:30 every morning this summer.
We are going to begin familiarizing him with the notion of an alarm clock at least two weeks before the start of the school year, despite the fact that I would dearly prefer to maintain that routine.
As it turns out, scientific research supports the wisdom of that gut feeling. Not only is it difficult for children to alter their typical patterns of sleep, but if they continue to stay up late even when they have to get up at an earlier hour, they will miss valuable hours of sleep, which may have an effect on more than just the degree of stress we experience in the morning.
The consequences of getting inadequate rest
There is a long-standing debate on whether or not the demands that society places on teenagers in terms of their school schedules and wake-up hours may directly compete with those demands (as this long-term Stanford University Study explains).
At the same time as a teenager’s natural sleep and rising time advance later in the day, the responsibilities of school often advance earlier. Despite the findings of several studies like this one, many towns have not altered their school calendars.
Sleep deprivation may have negative impacts on a child’s academic performance as well as their conduct if parents let their children to stay up longer yet need them to get up at an earlier hour.
This is something that should be kept in mind not just for teens but also for younger children.
The more drowsy our children are when they are at school, the greater the risk there is that it will negatively affect their memory, their ability to learn, and their overall performance in school (Dewald et al., 2010). Consider the following research as illustrative examples:
Even among children who displayed no symptoms previous to the trial, sleep restriction was associated to academic performance and attention among children as judged by their instructors in a study that was conducted in 2005 and included 74 children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Similar findings were found in research conducted in 2003 that evaluated children’s neurobehavioral performance while they were going through their typical sleep cycle and then asked them to reduce their sleep by only one hour.
Students slept more soundly during the hours that they were able to sleep, but they showed signs of being less awake throughout the day.
Similarly, research that was conducted in 2002 indicated that the linkages between the amount of sleep one gets and how well one’s brain functions were even more frequent among younger children.
According to the reports made by these children’s parents, the youngsters also exhibited a higher risk of having behavioral issues.
Altering one’s sleep schedule and making the move to a new school
It is common practice in parenting books to emphasize the significance of establishing and adhering to a regular bedtime routine as a method of overcoming the challenge of getting children to sleep.
However, putting the children to bed on time is simply one facet of the significance of maintaining this plan.
As part of the process of getting kids ready for the transfer to school, it is important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, according to research. Take, for instance:
Children who had disrupted sleep patterns, which were defined as “variability in reported amount of sleep, variability in bedtime, and lateness of bedtime,” were found to have a harder time transitioning to preschool in a study that was conducted in 2002 with over 200 children who were about to start preschool.
According to the findings of a study conducted in 2005 on adolescents who were transitioning from their summer schedule to their school time, high school students can lose as much as 120 minutes of sleep per night in the two weeks just after school begins when compared to their sleep schedule during the summer.
Because of this lack of sleep, the majority of the pupils struggled to function well in the morning hours of the school day.
A significant amount of studies has revealed the potential beneficial advantages of shifting school start times to later in the day, particularly for teenagers (Wahistrom, 2002; Kirby et al., 2011).
However, the majority of educational institutions have not yet completed the transition to a longer school day because of a wide variety of conflicting variables, such as after-school schedules and transportation problems.
We are going to have to do all in our power to assist our children in adjusting to the beginning of the school year until we can find out a method to synchronize the beginning of the school year with the circadian rhythms of our children, as well as the work schedules that we keep.
Tips for altering bedtime
It is important to take things slowly while assisting your kid in making the adjustment to an earlier sleep and earlier wake-up time, particularly if the summer months have significantly disrupted the child’s typical routine. If at all possible, give yourself at least two weeks before the start of the school year.
Find out the recommended amount of sleep your kid should be receiving.
Consider how many hours of sleep your kid need before making a decision on the ideal bedtime routine for you and your child to follow together.
You could have a decent notion based on experience, but these recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation can also be a helpful reference point.
If you need to go to bed early, you should make the transition as smoothly as possible.
According to Judith Owens, a pediatric sleep specialist, it is far simpler to convince a kid to stay up later than it is to get them to get up and go to bed sooner.
She recommends working in increments of 15 minutes, shifting bedtime to 15 minutes earlier every two or three days until you get back to the ideal bedtime.
It is important to keep in mind that the other components of the evening routine, such as supper and bath time, should also be moved earlier.
Increase the focus on the peaceful atmosphere before bedtime.
The establishment of a calm, dark, and technology-free nighttime routine should be prioritized in any plan that aims to improve sleep quality. This can be of utmost significance now that children have started going back to school.
Bedtimes in the summer often mean staying out late, falling asleep in the vehicle, or hurrying home to bed after an eventful picnic. After participating in these activities, children are likely to feel more fatigued than usual and may find it easier to nod off.
It’s possible that if you remove these components and encourage children to return to a more “regular” bedtime routine, they won’t feel ready for bed since they’ve been used to the stimulating and energy-draining effects that summer schedules have on them.
During this transition phase, you could discover that it is much more vital than usual to place a heightened focus on establishing an atmosphere that is quiet after supper.
Come up with a strategy to get up together.
It might be helpful to have a conversation with your kid about how the two of you can work together to make getting up earlier easier when you are aware that this is going to be a difficulty for you.
Does your kid want an alarm clock so they don’t have to hear you yelling at them to get up? Is it possible to lay out the things you want to wear the next day the night before, so that getting dressed in the morning would be simpler?
Children who are still in elementary school might benefit from using a checklist that details the activities they need to complete before going to school or beginning their day.
You may also think about some ways to make your mornings more mindful and less hectic, such as prioritizing time spent in nature over time spent interacting with electronics or pausing for ten seconds to focus on your breath before leaving the house.
Have a conversation with your kid about the advantages of a joyful morning routine, and make it a point to celebrate the mornings when everyone succeeds in achieving that objective.
Adjust your personal going-to-bed time.
Even if we are well aware that we need to assist our children in getting themselves ready for an earlier wake-up time, we are still going to have to get up at the same time as them.
Do not undervalue the need of easing into the new situation gradually on your own. Apply the same methods to advance your personal bedtime and wake-up time, and you should see comparable results.
When we ask our children to adjust a schedule or pattern that they have been used to and may even be enjoying, this will provide its own set of obstacles for everyone involved. They may be hesitant because they believe they would be deprived of a regular routine that is more enjoyable.
Put an emphasis on the chance to spend some peaceful bonding time together, to do activities as a family, or to discuss what they are looking forward to most about going back to school.
Let them know that you understand how they are feeling and that you may even share those sentiments with them, but encourage them to focus on the great chances that the start of the school year provides.
Put “gradually alter bedtime routine” on your list of things to accomplish before going back to school.
You will be thankful to yourself when it is simpler for you to get up and make it to the bus on the first day of school. At the very least, your snapshot from the first day of school will be considerably more impressive.