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.
Kimberly Flickinger says
I will definitely keep these sleep tips in mind and share with my friends.
Liz Mays says
Oh wow, children need a lot of sleep! Establishing a good sleep schedule as early as possible is definitely going to help.
We maintain a sleep routine throughout the school year. I am a little more lax during summer vacation, but now that we are back in the swing of things, sticking to a routine is the best way to ensure my kids are getting the required amount of sleep each night.
I had no idea that kids naturally have a rise in their melatonin levels around 8 pm. That’s really good to know!
Rach Ferrucci says
having a good sleep routine is important. I have always been a night owl and I remember as a kid never being able to fall asleep. Thankfully my kids went to bed and fell asleep good. We kept our routine the same, we also didn’t have to deal with electronics then
shelly peterson says
I definitely get more relaxed with my sons sleep schedule during summer. I try to get him back on a school sleep schedule about 2 weeks before school starts. These are great tips.
AnnMarie John says
I definitely think it’s important that you get enough sleep everyday. There’s more energy and you’re also going to be more productive. The same goes with our kids and I totally agree that they need a consistent bedtime.
Our Family World says
I always made my kids follow a sleep schedule. The growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland during sleep. So it just makes sense that for a child’s optimum development, they should get the recommended hours of sleep for their age.
Dandi D says
We always let our children stay up later in the summer too. But I like to get back into our early bedtime routine a couple weeks before school starts.
This is great information. One of the best things a parent can do is help put a routine into kids’ schedules that helps them get the sleep they need. When I was a kid, there were no tv’s in the bedrooms, no smart phones or computers, either. It makes it easier.
Carol Cassara says
Parents definitely need to try their best to have a good schedule for the kids. It’s all about getting enough sleep that sets how their day will go. These are great tips!
Maria Carbone says
This age chart is super handy. Some parents truly don’t know the best sleeping times for their kids.
Wendy Polisi says
I have always told younger parents that younger kids need more sleep than them. They couldn’t understand how their child could sleep from 8 PM to 8 AM. Age matters!
Angela Milnes says
My best sleep tip is start early. Kids can easily get schedules thrown off especially with major changes coming such as back to school. Starting early with the sleep schedule will help so much.
Sarah L says
I don’t have kids, but I do make sure I turn off all electronics at least an hour before I go to bed. (that’s what real books are for…)
Phew! My kids are pretty much on track. Although my 9-year-old stays up to read until who knows when every night. Need to get a reading lamp with a timer!
Mary Ann says
It’s a great idea to be consistent in a routine. Sleep is super important and it’s amazing how their bodies know just how much they need. It’s always an adjustment getting back into a routine for back to school, though.
These are great tips! I’m actually terrified for our new sleep schedules after a summer of late bedtimes!
ellen beck says
Keeping to a decent bedtime makes for happier kids during the day time. I Know it is easy to let them stay up and a chore to get some to sleep, but a tired kid is a cranky one just as we adults are!
Linda Manns Linneman says
This is some great information for all of us with little ones. We need to make sure our children get adequate sleep. Thank you so much for sharing