Summer lends itself to later nights thanks to more daylight, outdoor noise, and vacations in other time zones. It’s no wonder adults and children alike get out of their usual sleep routine in the summer season. But as the summer winds down, you’ll want to tweak your kids’ bedtime routines to get back into a healthier sleep habit – especially if they’re starting school soon!
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
The amount of sleep your child needs will depend on their age. Toddlers need up to 14 hours, preschoolers need about 11-13 hours, and school age kids need 10-11 hours of sleep. This resource chart from Sleep for Kids helps you find out how much sleep is ideal for your child. By the teen years, sleep habits are closer to adult sleep needs but they still need about 9 hours a night for optimal health and performance in school.
Check your kids’ ideal bedtimes with this Sleep Calculator that factors in their age and the time you need to get them up in the morning.
The Importance of Healthy Sleep
Sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of health in our modern, busy lives. School starts early, homework keeps kids up late, and that’s not even factoring in after-school activities or ample time for healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. With so many demands on our time, sleep is often the first thing to go.
You can generally get through a day or two without a full night’s sleep, but over time the body can become chronically sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor behavior, mood, and cognition, which means your kiddo won’t be at their best if they don’t get enough sleep.
Back to School Sleep Tips for Kids
1. Set a Routine: A bedtime ritual is important for everyone – kids and adults alike. Signal your kids that it’s time for bed with a regularly scheduled bath, bedtime story, or other ritual like using the bathroom and brushing their teeth. Over time, it will become a natural habit that gets them in the bedtime mindset.
2. Turn off TV and Screens: We say it all the time, but it bears repeating. The blue light emitted by electronics like tablets, computers, and the television impair the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Turn off the screens two hours before bedtime and shift gears to prepare for bed.
3. Focus on Relaxing: Rather than put all the pressure on sleep (which can keep people awake, stressing about how they’re not sleeping yet), focus instead on relaxing activities like a warm bath, quiet music, putting on pajamas, and turning the lights down to make a more relaxing atmosphere at home.
4. Reduce the Temperature: Temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for quality sleep, so adjust the thermostat if you can.
5. Prepare for Monsters: If your kids are afraid of monsters in the closet or under the bed, be prepared to chase them away or change the narrative. You might have luck with a night light or you can make a homemade “monster repellant” spray or powder (i.e., water in a spray bottle, or baking soda on the carpet, with a few optional drops of essential oils for fragrance). You can also find children’s books about monsters that can help them feel more comfortable in their rooms. Try The Monster Bed or Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster.
Now you and your kiddos are ready for a better night’s sleep and a healthier sleep routine for a new school year.