Parents, you can already picture those first mornings of the school year: the challenge of dragging cranky kids out of their beds at dawn.
Each year, many of us swear we’ll do it differently. We will listen to the experts. We will adjust our children’s bedtimes back to a school-year schedule as soon as August arrives. We will remember the power of a good bedtime routine.
So here are some tips for getting them back to a sensible bedtime:
Begin adjusting bedtime at least two weeks before classes begin, says family sleep counselor Dana Obleman, founder of the Sleep Sense system.
You don’t have to jump into going to bed at 7:30 and being really strict, she says. But do an evaluation of where the bedtime has been falling and move back toward that by about 15 minutes every third night.
For young kids, the most effective routine includes a warm bath and reading a favorite book.
With older children, Obleman suggests having a sit-down meeting two weeks before school begins. Discuss the importance of being rested.
Children, from toddlers to adolescents, need 10 to 12 hours of solid nighttime sleep, Obleman says. Teens are likely to need at least 9 hours.
Once you’ve chosen a bedtime, agree to turn off electronic screens one hour earlier, because the light from these devices signals our bodies to stay awake, says Dr. Peter Franzen, child sleep expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep Medicine Institute.