August is back to school month for many families. This means purchasing new school supplies, arranging transportation and adjusting to a new routine. One way parents can help their child have a successful start to the new school year is by developing a bedtime routine now. According to a research study found in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics on sleep and preschoolers, 4 year olds that received less than average sleep times had increased rates of behavior problems.
(Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; July 2013 edition)
To help you develop a sleep routine for your child, here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Two weeks before the first day of school, gradually adjust children’s sleep and wake schedules. This will help reset their biological clocks.
- To make sure children are getting enough sleep, also keep a regular bedtime on the weekends.
- Children need time to wind down, so plan a relaxing bedtime routine. Keep the routine the same so children can associate all steps with sleep.
- The sleep environment should be cool, quiet, dimly lit and comfortable.
- Electronics (video games, TV, computer, cell phone and tablets) should be turned off one hour before bed. The artificial blue light from screens can increase alertness and contribute to poor sleep.
- Limit caffeine six hours before bedtime.
- Provide children with healthy meals and regular exercise to promote sleep.
Suggested sleep requirements for the entire family: