Ready to transition your kids from lazy summers to school routines? Grab your Back-to-School Sleep Tips that Parents Need to Know. This is a sponsored post. All bedtime-loving opinions are my own.
Back-to-School Sleep Tips that Parents Need to Know
Confession: I let my kids stay up to 10:30 pm this summer. *Insert your aghast face here.* I admit that when the lazy days of summer roll in, our rigid family routine goes 99.999% lax. Bedtime becomes elusive as we give into kids pout-y faces and begging for “just a few more minutes.”
Then the alarm clock sounds. I’ve always hated that noise.
In a blink of an eye those few short schedule-free months disappear as my mom-voice warms up into full Batman mode. School. Two kids. Schedules. Routine. After-school sports. Crankiness. Bedtime.
Parents, the back-to-school reality is tough to accept after a summer of late nights. But there’s a reason why kids’ sleep is so important- especially during the school year. So today I’m getting real with Back-to-School Sleep Tips that Parents Need to Know. How much sleep do your kids really need? How does screen time affect sleep routines? What if your kids aren’t falling asleep? And most importantly, what should you NEVER do?
Why Do Our Kids Need Regular and Consistent Sleep?
Consistency, schedules, routines – there’s a reason why these words are used so often in parenting, especially when it comes to sleep. A study published in Pediatrics found that children with non regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties. Consistent sleep routines lead to positive outcomes such as: Improved attention, improved behavior and improved emotional regulation.
One question without a clear answer, according to Dr. Swanson, is this: Does poor sleep lead to worse behavior or do children with behavior challenges have a difficult time sleeping? Both can be true for some children. The bottom line, insufficient sleep in children can also lead to increased risk for challenges with weight, hypertension, diabetes and decreased performance at school. And insufficient sleep makes it harder to enjoy our days as a family. PERIOD.
How Much Sleep Do My Kids Need?
Think you know how much sleep your kids should be getting everyday? Yeah, I did too. Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, changed its recommendations for how much sleep children should be getting everyday. I was shocked to see how my 4-year old compared (my light sleeper only gets 8-9 hours per day MAX):
- Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Sleep Fun Fact: Did you know that kids under the age of 12, or before puberty, get tired naturally around 8 pm, according to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Mama Doc? Around 8pm, there is a natural rise in their melatonin levels and she recommends parents seize that opportunity to transition kids to bed.
How Does Screen Time Affect Sleep?
Kids and technology seem to go hand and hand these days. But the harder part is prying those little hands away from screen time so that they can get the sleep they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all screens be turned off 30 minutes to 1-2 hours before bedtime.
Further, small screens (like smart phones) are more disruptive to sleep than TV – the light from the devices can impede natural hormones that help us fall asleep. And the interruptions from devices can fracture our sleep, too. Don’t sleep with your cell phone and don’t let your children either.
What If My Kids Aren’t Falling Asleep?
Parents, I totally get you. Sometimes kids aren’t good sleepers (aka my littlest one) and have trouble falling asleep. So what should we do? If you are noticing it is happening more regularly, keeping a sleep diary can help you uncover the causes of a child’s sleep problems. Follow this link to the KnowYourOTCs site for more details on starting a sleep diary, especially if you are planning to talk to your child’s doctor about it.
Parents, Here’s the Bottom Line
Sleep is imperative need everyday, especially for kids and their busy school schedules. And at times when we as parents get overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and frustrated when our kids aren’t sleeping. But here’s the bottom line. You should never, NEVER give your child an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to make them sleepy. OTC cold and flu medicines may contain diphenhydramine, which can cause drowsiness. But it is important to only treat your child with the right OTC medicine for the symptoms they are presenting, not to aid in sleep. Always read the label before giving your child any OTC medicine.
Head over to the Know Your OTC’s website for more tips on sleep and over-the-counter medicine safety. Be sure to follow @KnowYourOTCs on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook for more up-to-date information for your family.
What are your best Back-to-School Sleep Tips?
I am a #KnowYourOTCs blogging ambassador, compensated by the CHPA’s Educational Foundation. All opinions are my own. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more family travel tips, delicious recipes, and kid crafts.