2 Simple Steps for Back-to-School Sleep

Owl reading a bed time story on the moon

Illustration by Nat_S_Shutterstock

How to get back on track from your relaxed summer slumber schedule.

After a summer of late nights playing in the park, hanging with friends and laid-back mornings, it’s time to get back on a school schedule. I can hear the sigh of relief for some moms and feel the rising tension for others.

Today, we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent, especially when school starts up again. We scroll through Pinterest to find the newest and cutest ways to pack lunches, dress the kids for fall and load them up on school supplies. How many glue sticks and tissues again?

Yet, we never think of sleep. Why is that? What if I told you there are two simple actionable steps you can implement tonight to make morning wake-ups for school easier and bedtimes a breeze.

Tech smarter

The first step is to use technology properly! I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Wait Carolina, technology is bad for sleep.” Yes, you are correct. Technology that emits blue light is known to suppress your melatonin levels (sleep hormone) drastically. So why do I still recommend it? It’s simple. During the summer, our kids get hooked on tech. They might fall asleep with the TV or other devices on or maybe watch cartoons during dinner before bedtime. So, when school is approaching, you can use tech as your advantage when using it properly.

There are some remarkable apps on the market that include meditations, sleep stories and simple calming sounds for the bedtime routine. I use the sleep stories and the meditation from the app Calm, and my kids and my private clients love the app Moshi Twilight. Sleep stories are becoming more popular, especially with toddler kids who love to stall at bedtime. Turning on the story and placing the screen facing down and by the door (out of sight of the child), is a great way to have the body begin to unwind and prepare to go to sleep. Creating a relaxing environment with dim lights and an ambient sound or story time will assist the natural sleep process.

Baby steps

The second step is to readjust bedtime gradually. You can begin by adjusting bedtime approximately 15 minutes earlier every one to two days. This means that if bedtime currently is 9 p.m., start with an 8:45 p.m. goal, and in one to two days ease that back by another 15 minutes. And so on.

If you don’t have a couple of weeks to prepare, no worries. Implement an early bedtime for one to two weeks until you start to notice that morning wake-ups are easier (less crankiness) and bedtime becomes more of a breeze.

Without healthy sleep, there is no health, and that is the foundation for everything else. Wishing you a dreamy new school year.

More tips for tackling the ZZZs

1. Promote quiet time in the late afternoon with soft music to help the body unwind. Sound plays an important role in sleep. Experiment with a white noise machine that plays calming sounds like water flowing. A “relax box” or calming jar is also a good option. Fill the box with activities such as puzzles, blocks or coloring materials.

2. Maintain hydration throughout the day. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendation based on their age and weight.

3. Set up blackout curtains in a child’s room to block any outside light that may suppress melatonin (the sleep hormone). 

4. Get a pre-sleep routine in place by setting an age appropriate bedtime that is in sync with the child’s natural sleep rhythms.

5. Keep a consistent schedule, even on weekends.

Carolina Romanyuk is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, specializing in sleep hygiene and behavioral coaching. She is a nationally recognized speaker, educator and the author of the international children’s book, Good Night Melanie, Good Morning Cory. Carolina works with families worldwide through virtual and in-person sessions at CarolinaRomanyuk.com.

 

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