Back to School: Why Kids Need a Bedtime Routine

I can’t believe that summer is almost over and the school year has started this week! As I am sure a lot of parents have noticed, it has been a challenge to adjust to the new schedule with kids going back to school and all the details that go with that.

If you were a little lax about your kid’s bedtime during the summer, you are not alone. It is very common to let the kids go to bed a little later during these months. Heck, who can go to bed while it is still light out at 9:30 at night?

Up All Night

Now that reality has set back in, it is time to buckle down and really get school age kids back into a routine that is going to benefit them mentally and physically. Here are some guidelines on how much sleep is recommended for kids of different ages.

There are a lot of benefits to establishing a bedtime routine for kids. If it is a difficult task, it is worth sticking to it until you find success:

  • Repetition and structure help children feel safe
  • Bedtime routines help kids de-stress from the busy day
  • Great opportunity to talk about what happened during the day, giving that child individual attention
  • Open avenues for the kids to have your undivided attention to ask questions they may not normally
  • Who doesn’t want snuggle time with their kids
  • Read, read, read – it promotes learning and love and caring for the child

5 Minutes Until Bedtime

My daughter had a tough time sleeping from the time she was born until recently, and she is 3½ years old. I have established a bedtime routine of putting her to bed within a half hour each night and it has seemed to work (knock on wood). I also like to give her the countdown until bedtime starting with 15 minutes, 10 minutes and 5 minutes until bedtime. It drives my husband nuts, but at least my daughter knows when it is time to start to pack it up for the night.

There are other things we as parents can do to help kids establish their bedtime routine:

  • Limit caffeine intake after 2:30 p.m.
  • Shut off all electronics (computers, TV, video games, etc.) one hour before bed time. Studies have shown that kids who interact with electronics right before bedtime are less likely to fall asleep and have a good night’s sleep. Electronic devices as mentioned stimulate the brain and don’t allow for proper down time before sleeping.
  • Open your child’s blinds after they go to sleep; the natural morning light will help wake them naturally.
  • Make sure your kids are active during the day. This will help tire them out, and more than likely they will be ready for bed due to exhaustion.
  • Eating healthy foods — especially during the second half of the day — also helps with sleeping well at night.
  • Establish a bedtime routine (bath, reading, etc.) that is consistent each night.

What works for you and your kids at bedtime? Share any and all secrets please!

Resources: ABC Local; Psych Central Photo credit: Jeff / Godfrey

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