Sweet Dreams and Happy Mornings: Back-to-School Sleep Tips for Kids After Summer Break
As the summer sun begins to set, it’s time for our little ones to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer and hello to a new adventure —back to school! Establishing healthy sleep habits to ensure your child is well-rested is essential for a successful school year. With the help of Marietta B. Bibbs, system manager for sleep disorders at BayCare, here are some effective sleep tips to make sure it’s all sweet dreams and smooth sailing as your kids head back to the classroom.
1. Gradual Bedtime Adjustment
Easing into a routine sleep schedule is key to a bright and cheerful morning. “A 15–30-minute adjustment every few nights will help their internal biological clocks readjust smoothly to the changes and prevent cranky mornings once school starts,” Bibbs said. “Start a regular bedtime and waketime routine at least two weeks prior to school restarting. The child should start going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends.”
2. Create a Bedtime Ritual
Establishing a calming bedtime ritual can prepare children for a good night of rest. “It signals to your child's brain that it's time to wind down and drift into dreamland," Bibbs explained. “A warm bath, a bedtime story or a relaxation exercise can work wonders in calming the waves of excitement and guiding them to a restful night of sleep.”
3. A Sleep-Conducive Environment
Transform your child's room into a cozy dreamland. The use of night lights can cast a soft glow that provides a sense of comfort and security. Ensure the room is cool and quiet to promote a more relaxing sleep experience.
4. Screen Free Slumber
Screen time before bed can lead to a stormy night of sleep. “The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, making it harder for children to fall asleep,” Bibbs added. Steer clear of devices like tablets and smartphones at least an hour before lights out to prevent blue light from disrupting sleep patterns. If your child uses a table or a smart phone, use the “night-sight” setting on the device. The best option is reading a book to allow their brains to transition into sleep mode.
5. Encourage Playful Activities
Keep your little ones energized throughout the day with plenty of exercise and outdoor fun. Engaging in physical play not only boosts their spirits, but also helps burn energy and sleep better at the end of a fun-filled day.
6. Sleep-Friendly Snacks
Before they drift off to dreamland, Bibbs also suggests offering a light and healthy snack before bed. Sleep-friendly snacks like a banana or a warm cup of milk can keep hunger at bay without leading to discomfort in their tummies.
“A good night's sleep is crucial for children's physical and mental development,” Bibbs said. “Establishing healthy sleep habits from an early age can improve focus and concentration.”
Incorporating these sleep tips can set the stage for our little learners to have a smooth and well-rested transition back to school. So, here’s to sweet dreams, happy mornings and acing the school year!