Tips to get kids back on school sleep schedule

Aug 2, 2023, 12:15 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Back-to-school season is here, meaning it’s just about time to replace those late summer nights with early bedtimes as kids prepare for the first day of school.

KSL’s Tamara Vaifanua has some tips on how we can ease into the transition.

A back-to-school bedtime routine can help your whole family get back on track. Experts recommend a gradual approach.

“With the summer we’ve been having later nights and not very consistent,” said Alisha Martinez. She’s working on getting her kids, 5-year-old Emme and 3-year-old Cameron, back into the habit of a good sleep cycle.

“My daughters really ready for school. She’s an extrovert. She loves learning,” she said. “My son’s starting preschool too. My son is a little bit more nervous about it.”

Dr. Lori Neeleman, a clinical psychologist with Intermountain Health, said it’s important to set an earlier bedtime.

“One of the most important things that you can do is give it a week, maybe a week before school starts,” she said.

Slowly move up their bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes each night. For children 12 years old and younger, it’s recommended they get 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Teens need eight to 10 hours.

A consistent bedtime routine is key so kids feel a sense of security and support.

“We have a snack and we brush our teeth and we put our jammies on and then we snuggle and read some stories,” Martinez said.

Neeleman said things like dimming lights are helpful.

“It doesn’t need to be complex, it doesn’t need to be this long drawn out thing in a certain order,” she said.

Children can get overstimulated by TV and phone screen lights, so limit screen time before bed.

Neeleman said family members can start a routine of plugging their phones in the kitchen – away from the bedroom.

“Let them know you’re not going to check it,” she said. “You just want them to have a peaceful atmosphere.”

A peaceful night routine can make a big difference in the morning for parents like Martinez.

“For me like, mornings and trying to get ready and get out the door can be one of the most stressful times.”

“So, as you transition into the school year, having that morning routine and have it be calm and enjoyable, and consistent,” Neeleman said.

You want to get really good light exposure in the morning. If you can walk your kids to school that’s a good way doctors say to get a blast of light to manage their rhythm.

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Tips to get kids back on school sleep schedule