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Start the School Year Strong with The Right Sleep Routine 

The beginning of the school year has arrived. This time of year, we’re all taking steps to reduce the pressure of back-to-school season and set our children up for success. And one of the most vital frameworks for academic achievement starts at home with the proper sleep routine.

Your child is presented with a ton of information each day at school, and a steady sleep routine is crucial to their ability to take it all in. Quality and quantity of sleep are directly related to attention span, memory, thought processing, and sequential thinking – all essential parts of the learning environment. 

The Benefits of a Sleep Routine Outweigh the Struggles

Making sleep a priority can be difficult with everything we have going on in life. And sometimes, getting the electronics turned off and lights out are battles we don’t want to fight. But, just know: When it comes to getting your child to adhere to a regular sleep schedule, the benefits outweigh the struggles. 

When a child doesn’t get enough sleep, a lot of negative repercussions occur. The resulting drowsiness, irritability, hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety can become obstacles to learning. The amount of sleep your child gets each night dictates the strength of their mental function. 

So, how much sleep is enough? The Sleep Foundation advises that the amount of sleep your child needs depends on age. Children aged 6-12 are recommended 9 to 11 hours per night, while teens fall in the 8 to 10 range. 

If you’re having difficulty getting on track with a sleep schedule, don’t worry. There are plenty of best practices that can help. 

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment 

Creating a sleep-friendly environment can make all the difference in your child’s bedtime routine. Here are some things you can do to make sure your child’s room is ready for a long-nights rest:

  • Make sure your child’s bed is set up for sleep – complete with security animals and blankets. 
  • Do not allow children to use their beds for entertainment activities such as watching television or using tablets (make it a place for sleep and sleep only).
  • A dark room promotes deep sleep, so keep the room as dark as possible (of course, keeping in mind preferences for nightlights).
  • Blue light (lights from tablets, televisions, etc.) suppresses melatonin. Avoid screen time at least an hour before bedtime to avoid sleep interference.
  • Cool temperatures help to reduce sweating, itching, and discomfort during sleep.

Set Your Routine

As you develop your child’s bedtime routine, keep some things in mind:

  • Communicate the importance of sleep with your child and set clear guidelines for bed- and waking times. 
  • There’s no cookie cutter bedtime routine but include things your child needs to accomplish before bed, such as brushing their teeth, and common asks, such as a glass of water or a bedtime story. 
  • Frequently, bedtime routines can become drawn out without boundaries. Be sure to set time parameters around your routine steps and hold your child to them to avoid delays.
  • A small bedtime snack, such as whole-grain crackers or a piece of fruit, can help fuel your child through the night.
  • Consistent sleep schedules help to facilitate a healthy sleep pattern.
  • Sometimes bedtimes are broken because of things outside our control but try to be mindful of scheduling activities that extend beyond an hour before bedtime.

Now is a great time to start if you don’t have an already established sleep routine. Use these tips to set the standard, and then adjust to what works for your family. The main thing is to stay consistent. Repetition becomes pattern, pattern becomes habit, and a strong sleep schedule is one habit that will aid your child throughout their school career.

For more tips on preparing your family for back to school, check out our Parent Survival Guide on the topic.

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