Back to School Sleep Readjustment

This year’s return to school feels different. None of us knows what will happen about COVID, but hopefully, we will return to in-person education. As a parent, you may start thinking about how to implement some changes to bedtime routines; here are some ideas:

What Needs Readjustment

I would ask you two questions:

  1. Does my child’s bedtime routine need readjustment?
  2. Does my child’s sleep schedule need readjustment?

1. How can I readjust my child’s bedtime routine? 

Children’s and teen sleep patterns change throughout the holiday season. We all had a bit of relaxation and caught up on sleep. In addition, my assumption is that screen time and late bedtimes increased. However, you must start putting the breaks on screen time use in the evening and ensure clear rules about keeping screens out of your children’s room at night. Check out my other blog on the Impact of blue light from screens. ( Exposure to blue light affects our 24-hour cycle).

Many adults and children have trouble giving up their devices, so make sure you provide an alternative. Here are a few ideas:    

  • Meditation
  • A warm bath
  • Visualisation
Make a self-soothe box
  • Drawing
  • Colouring
  • Journaling
  • A massage ( great for anxious children, the calm-down chemical Oxytocin is produced)

Secondly, I would also give select a bedtime (when they must be in bed by…)  

The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following guidelines for sleep. ( They are guidelines, some children need more or less)

  • Pre-schoolers (ages 3-5) require 10-13 hours of sleep
  • School-age children (ages 6-13) require 9-11 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers (ages 14-17) need 8-10 hours of sleep

From that place, implement a good bedtime routine ( it should be up to 35/40 minutes maximum).

A bedtime routine should be simple.

  • Bath
  • Bed
  • Story ( a book or make-one-up)
  • Cuddles

Please talk with your teenager or tween about this and discuss it. It may be essential to offer an incentive. In contrast to monetary rewards, I preferred to spend some special time with them.

When it comes to anxiety or nighttime fears, you will need to address them first. Find out more at this blog, 9 Ways to Manage the Worry Monsters.

Does my Childs Sleep Schedule need readjustment?

If your child has had a more relaxed holiday bedtime, start to bring back their sleep by 15 minutes each night.

It will take a bit of time but worth it.

For many adults and teens, don’t forget about social jetlag.

What is Social JetLag?

Social jet lag, a term coined by German researcher Till Roennenberg in 2006, is the discrepancy in a person’s sleep pattern between the weekday and the weekend, which can cause a person to feel “jet-lagged” and exhausted.

While social jet lag can affect anyone, the problem is widespread among teenagers. Teenagers are biological “night owls” who tend to sleep and get up late when schedules permit, such as on weekends or holidays. The problem arises when they are expected to sleep and get up early for school on weekdays. 

Two forces determine when we are awake or asleep at any point in time. The first is how long we’ve been awake; the longer we’re awake, the more tired we feel, and it’s easier to fall asleep.

But, another one forces us awake during the day, which opposes that sleepy force or sleep debt that is building up. This is called our internal body clock or circadian rhythm. Dramatically adjusting the circadian rhythm confuses the body and brain – no longer knowing what time to go to sleep and what time to get up, which makes us feel horrible.

Consequently, teenagers consume more caffeine- and sugar-filled beverages/foods to combat this imbalance. ( Red Bull has nearly just as much caffeine as coffee). Caffeine is one of the most significant contributors to sleep disruption. It affects the sleep-promoting neurotransmitter called Adenosine.  

In addition, other potential side effects of social jetlag are:

  • Behavioural issues
  • Cognitive and attention difficulties
  • Sleep difficulties, general fatigue.
  • Mood Dysregulation
  • Obesity

Tips for Readjustment

  • Talk to them about this, then pause and listen
  • Show them videos on all Athletes; this is a great one below from Matthew Walker, sleep guru.
  • Wake your teenager up at the same time every day.
  • Be consistent ( Consistency is the biggest thing. Even if your teen stays up later on the weekend, they should wake up within an hour or two of when they usually get up during the week. If your child gets up at 6 a.m. for school, they should be out of bed by 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday).
  • Get out in the morning light ( it doesn’t matter if it is cloudy)
  • Don’t let your teen sleep in.
  • Keep the bedroom environment calm and just for sleeping
  • Manage screens and caffeine intake

The Guardian have a great article on this, and you can share it with them. In addition, you might learn something too.

In Conclusion

The beginning of school sets the tone for the year, and kids with trouble sleeping may struggle. I would advise parents to consider their children’s sleep habits and how they may need to be readjusted before starting school. Contact me for a consultation if you are worried or concerned; it is never too late to change.

Look out for Autumn for my workshops; I will offer a free sleep webinar in September, so sign up for my newsletter community for a space. 

If you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful or inspiring, please share it with your friends on social media by clicking on the icons on the side. Thank you for visiting my website!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap