Back To School - Well Rested!

As a former Elementary Science & Social Studies teacher I LOOOOOOVE this back to school time of year! New school supplies, fresh clothes and excitement over a new year! As we say goodbye to our summer lifestyle of later bedtimes and pool days, let’s start to think about getting our kids ready for school with proper bedtimes, routines and expectations. 


Get the right bedtime:

  • Did you move bedtime later for the summer? Let’s work to move it earlier so we can honor your child’s sleep needs! 

  • The weeks before school starts, begin moving bedtime up. Every 3-4 days bring your child’s bedtime earlier by 15 minutes. Once you’ve hit the desired goal time for when school starts, stay there! It would be helpful for your child to have this goal time bedtime for 1-2 weeks before starting back to school.

  • Preschool and school aged children old need 10-12 hours of sleep each night. If your 3-5 year old is offered a nap at preschool or at home, you’ll want to aim for the lower side of 10 hours of night sleep. If your child doesn’t nap during the day, we can aim for the 11-12 hours each night. 

  • Start with what time they need to be waking in the morning, and reverse from there! 

    Preschool with nap: 6:30AM start time >> with 1.5 hour nap >> 8:00PM bedtime

    Preschool with no nap: 6:30AM start time >> no nap >> 6:30PM or 7:00PM bedtime

    School aged children: 6:30AM start time >> 7:30PM bedtime 

    *8:30PM bedtime is the latest I would go if you have a 6:30AM start time for your elementary school aged child. (10 hours)

Bedtime Routine:

  • You probably have a solid bedtime routine still going, so keep it up! 

  • Bath/Shower, brush teeth, put on PJs, read a few books, say goodnight!

  • Keep routine to 30 minutes at most so your child doesn’t get overtired and therefore, frustrated! 


Know your child’s tired cues!

  • Going back to sleep is hard! Adjusting to new schedules on their bodies, new classroom, new teacher, new routines, new friends...so exciting but also so stimulating! 

  • For the first week or so you may need to choose a slightly earlier bedtime if you recognize that your child is showing any of these signs in the evening:

    Short fuse -- everything seems to be upsetting them

    Not listening -- not just normal “not listening” but blatant disobedience that seems out of character

    Disinterest -- does your child usually have tons of energy each evening, yet they suddenly don’t seem to want to go outside, play or talk

    Grumpy -- acting irritable and put off by the smallest things

    Yawning, rubbing eyes, laying down, Telling you they are tired!! 

Don’t plan anything.

  • Remember all the talk about everything is new and exciting?! Yeah! So don’t plan a weekend trip the week after they start school. Stay home, give them rest time, 1:1 time, and space to talk about what happened over the week!

  • During the first few weeks keep the evenings simple. Take a walk together, play outside, bike ride, simple dinner, enjoy being together and connecting after a full day

Setting them up for sleep success!

Let’s do a quick check for what we want your child’s sleep environment to look like:

  • DARK: grab these quick solution blackout paper shades, or Blackout EZ covers (especially great for tricky sized windows- you cut them down to fit). 

  • SOUND: The Dohm sound machine is great to block out household noises when you’re getting ready for bed, or early mornings before it’s time to wake.

  • COMFORT ITEMS: Does your child have a security blanket? Stuffed animal? Lovey? Great! These are perfect to help your child self-soothe. But also, let’s keep it to a minimum of 2 buddies in the bed or we’re opening up the gateway for a zoo!!

  • Screen Time: Blue light blocks the release of melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone that helps your child get sleepy, fall asleep and stay asleep! We don’t want to prohibit that!! So the easiest thing to do? Cut off screens 1-2 hours prior to bedtime...and get outside! When the sun gets lower in the sky, our bodies begin producing melatonin. 

  • Alarm Clock:

    • I love the Hatch clock for teaching your child when it’s time for morning, and when it’s acceptable to get out of bed.

    • Tell your child “When the clock is red, it’s time for bed, when the clock is ______, it’s morning time and you can get up!” 

    • If you have a school aged child who can understand multiple colors you can even set a transition color: Red = bed / Blue = get up and get dressed / Yellow = okay to come out of the room!

Enjoying The Weekends

  • Is your child sleeping past their normal awake time on the weekends? GREAT!!! Let them! Clearly their bodies need more rest to catch up from a busy week. 

  • When our bodies get a full and unbroken night of sleep our brains are most restored and bodies feel most revived!! Give them the sleep they need!

I hope this new year brings a lot of growth for your child! Cheers to a great night of sleep that will help make that happen!! 

Sweet Dreams,
Becca Campbell
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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