Back to School Sleep Tips – Covid 19 Style

back to school sleep tips
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

Anyone else totally over the coronavirus? Glad I’m not alone. 

“Corona sucks!”

My twin boys

I can’t argue with them! I prefer they don’t use the work ‘sucks’, but I let it slide in this situation.

I’m also over the back-to-school Mommy shaming about the choices each family is making for THEIR family.  Whether you are choosing remote learning, homeschooling, hybrid or sending your child in person, it is YOUR choice to make the right decision for your family.  Let’s not let this be another thing that divides us and instead let’s support each other’s choices.  No matter what choice a family makes, they don’t make it lightly and they are doing what is right for THEIR family. 

And for working parents and stay-at-home parents, I’m feeling for you! Most of us aren’t teachers and this is the understatement of the year – it is challenging teaching our kids. For working parents, it is an impossible situation to try to work full-time and play teacher at the same time.  All of this while trying to maintain some level of self-care and mental/emotional well-being.  Not many people I know are feeling super balanced this summer without schoolwork, never mind once school is back in session. 

back to school sleep needs

The Bright Side…

One thing I think we can all agree with is that sleep makes pretty much everything better! When parents are getting their required 7-9 hours of sleep each day, it helps us to cope with our competing priorities with more patience and grace.  I know that this may sound selfish, but when our kiddos are sleeping the required amount, it gives us more time for ourselves.  IMHO, alone time isn’t selfish, it is a necessity for self-care and being the parent you want to be. 

Children NEED sleep and a lot of it!  Why?  Improved attention span, learning, memory consolidation, improved behavior, emotional regulation and improved quality of life are all benefits of adequate sleep.  It’s clear to see how these benefits will help our children at school and at home alike.

As we embark on this year’s unorthodox back-to-school, here are some of our top back-to-school sleep tips to help your family get the rest that you all need, no matter how the school year looks for your family.

Back to School Sleep Tip #1 – Adjust Wake Time

Whether your kiddos are heading back to the classroom or you are doing remote learning, our bodies perform their best when we have a consistent eating and sleeping schedule.  If your schedule has become more lax in the summer months, it’s time to bring back consistency. 

At least one week before school starts, re-establish your school schedule.  This means having a set wake time of when your child will need to be up for school. Then waking your child at this time every day, even on the weekends. 

If your adolescent or teenager is sleeping in very late, after 8:30 – 9:00 am, you may want to start 2-3 weeks before school starts with moving the wake time and bedtime 15 minutes earlier every 2-3 days to help your child to adjust more gently. 

PRO TIP: Open the blinds 30 minutes before your child has to wake up.  The sun will naturally help your child’s body to wake earlier.

Back to School Sleep Tip #2 – Move Bedtime Earlier

If you are moving your child’s wake time earlier, you’ve got to compensate with an earlier bedtime. This will help your child meet their sleep needs to prevent getting overtired. 

School-aged children need between 10-11 hours of nighttime sleep to meet their sleep needs.  Teenagers need 9-10 hours each night. You can determine your child’s best bedtime by looking at what time they need to wake in the morning and counting back the required number of hours.  Ensure that you are getting your child into bed 15-30 minutes BEFORE their bedtime so they are settling in by the time they need to be asleep.

For example, my sons who are 6 years old, need a solid 11 hours of sleep to be well-rested.  They need to wake up by 7:00 am to make it to school by 8:30 am. 

Given this knowledge, I know that my children need to be asleep by 8:00 pm to meet their sleep needs.  I am tucking them in and saying good night by 7:45 pm. 

PRO TIP: Limit sunlight exposure 1-2 hours before bedtime.  Dim lights in the hours leading up to bed will help your child to settle to sleep easier.

Back to School Sleep Tip #3 – Limit Screens

Try to limit screen time at least 1 hour before starting the bedtime routine.  This will help your child’s body to produce the necessary hormone (melatonin) to make it easier to settle into sleep.  Blue light emitted by devices (TV, computer, tablet, phone) mimics the sun and tells our bodies it is time to be awake.  If your child has a hard time falling asleep it will cut into their nighttime sleep and can cause your child to be overtired.

Perfect pre-bedtime activities to help promote sleep include quiet play, coloring and reading. 

PRO TIP: This is also important for adults.  Stop your scroll and pick up a good book!

Back to School Sleep Tip #4 – Consistent Bedtime Routine

Develop a consistent bedtime routine to help your children transition to sleepy time.  Children crave consistency and routine so having a consistent bedtime routine helps them to adjust from play to sleepy time.  A good routine lasts in between 15-30 minutes, is not rushed and incorporates several soothing elements.  Consider a bath, then pajamas, cuddles and books.  Ensure that this is a calm time.

PRO-TIP: A connecting bedtime routine can help prevent bedtime battles because we are filling our child’s cup before asking them to separate from us for bed.

Back to School Sleep Tip #5 – Limit Caffeine

If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee too late in the afternoon and had a raging case of insomnia at bedtime, you know why this is important!  Our children are especially sensitive to caffeine so in the afternoon and evening, avoid caffeine in any form, including soda, chocolate, energy drinks and coffee.  Limit consumption during the day. 

PRO-TIP: Chocolate is a sneaky form of caffeine so for dessert and/or bedtime snack, stay away from chocolatey, sugary treats.  Berries and a cheese stick make an awesome bedtime snack. 

Hang in there, parents! Parenting is a wild ride and even wilder given the pandemic. One day we will all look back at this time and laugh…hopefully.

If you utilize some of our top sleep tips for back to school, tag us on Instagram @bellalunafamily on what’s working for your family!

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