A New School Year, a New Bedtime

As summer nears its end, your children will need to get back to an ideal sleep routine. For those who have gotten into the routine of staying up late and sleeping the mornings away, this can be a challenge your family faces. When will be the new bedtime once school is back in session? According to the Sleep Foundation, school-aged children should be getting between 9 and 11 hours of sleep nightly. For teenagers, no less than 7 hours of sleep is recommended. An ideal amount of sleep for teens ranges from 8 to 10 hours. Use this information to help you determine what will be the target bedtime. You may need to adjust that time along the way so that you allow kids time enough for adequate sleep and for getting ready for school in the morning. Unfortunately, declaring when bedtime will be does not mean that your little ones are prepared to go to sleep right away at that new time. Luckily, there are tricks you can use to help your kids return to a normal routine for the school year.

Work Your Way to an Earlier Bedtime

Ease your children into the routine. The earlier you begin transitioning to the new bedtime, the easier it will be to get your kids' habits to change. Begin by making bedtime earlier by nightly increments of 5 to 15 minutes. About two weeks prior to the first school day, have your children plan to be in bed a few minutes earlier than usual. If 11:00 pm had been bedtime during summer vacation, 10:45 pm won't be too drastic of a change to face right away, and neither will 10:30 the following night. Make the switch with a gradual change over the timespan of several days. Likewise, you may need to set the wake-up time earlier each day, too.

Practice Relaxing Activities

Before bedtime, your children should be doing things that will help their bodies rest and relax. For starters, devices with screens should be powered down. Many of the gadgets we like emit the kind of light that stimulates the brain. Cell phones, TVs, and videogames are tempting to use before bed, but they do not relax our bodies for sleep. It is best to cease using these electronics an hour or two before bed. Instead of using them for pre-bedtime entertainment, replace them with books, magazines, or quiet music. Help young children relax by reading a bedtime story or two. They may even fall asleep before you reach the final page. Don't be surprised to find a teen asleep with an open book either!

Another way to relax the body before bed is by taking a bath or shower. The warm water can help soothe the body and diminish the stress faced during the day. There is an added benefit to bathing at night also; it does not have to be worked into the next day's morning routine which can save you time and hassle when getting out the door on schedule is already hard enough.

Last of all remember that eating is not an ideal activity for the body right before bedtime. When food is consumed at night, the body must go through the digestive process. It is busy at work which makes for restless sleep if any sleep at all occurs. Experts remind everyone to avoid products containing caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime. Doing so will make it easier for one to fall asleep.

No matter which relaxing activities you and your family choose to do before bedtime, repeat them each night. When your children fall into a routine like this, their bodies will sense it. The body will recognize that the activities are part of what comes prior to sleep, and it will begin to prepare itself for a state of rest.

Keep the Environment Conducive to Sleep

While a comfortable bed and perfect pillow will definitely help a child fall asleep, there is more to the sleeping environment than that. Along with the stimulating light emitted by devices, their noises are equally arousing. Make sure those gadgets have been powered down for the night. You may want to designate a place outside of the child's bedroom for the household's devices to be stowed for the night. Consider the amount of light that clocks and other electronics emit, as well. Sometimes they can be as bothersome as a cellphone when one is trying to get to sleep. Room temperature also matters. Anyone can have a hard time falling asleep in a room that is too hot or too cold. Be sure your child's room is a comfortable temperature.