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Back to School Sleep Tips
— by Sealy on Aug 23, 2022
Summer break: a time to have fun in the sun, spend long days with family and friends, and above all else… relax. As the back-to-school season slowly creeps up, so does the dread of early school mornings – especially for the children in your life. Quality sleep is essential for anyone to achieve their daily goals, and your child’s academic success is no different.
Straying from a standard schedule for an extended period, like summer vacation, can adversely impact the bedtime routine you’ve spent night after night perfecting throughout the school year. That’s why it’s essential to consider adjusting to a suitable sleep schedule before school is back in session. A head-start can help parents and children quickly get back into the swing of things.
Solidify a Sleep Schedule
Children rely on their parents to set healthy, practical habits – and sleep should be no exception. Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from a consistent sleep schedule. Creating a steady routine can help the body’s circadian rhythm properly adjust. This guides the body to know when it’s time to wake up and wind down and can also prevent fatigue, exhaustion, and daytime drowsiness. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that most of America’s youth don’t get enough sleep on school nights, with nearly 60% of middle schoolers and 70% of high schoolers reporting insufficient nightly sleep.^ But how much sleep does your child actually need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following guidelines:
Preschoolers (ages 3-5) need 10-13 hours of sleep
School-age children (ages 6-13) need 9-11 hours of sleep
Teenagers (ages 14-17) need 8-10 hours of sleep^
Encourage your child to go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier than they usually would during the summer months, 2-3 weeks leading up to the first day of school. Doing so will allow them to seamlessly return to their regular sleeping routine – something they will appreciate when those early school mornings start back up.
Find a Bedtime Routine
For some families, getting ready for bed can become a nightly battle. However, bedtime prep can become a relaxing bonding opportunity by implementing a schedule that includes a few simple, repetitive steps.
In addition to taking a bath or shower, brushing teeth, and putting on clean PJs, consider swapping screen time with a good book or singing lullabies for younger children. If you have older children or teens, encourage them to read a chapter or two from their favorite book, journal their thoughts, or listen to mellow music before bed.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
The Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as preparing for a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene includes practicing healthy habits during the day and at bedtime. For example, allow your child to find ways to incorporate exercise into their day without over-extending their schedule. Exercise has proven to positively impact sleep quality while reducing stress and decreasing the risk of obesity in adulthood. Encourage your kids to participate in after-school sports and other extracurricular activities but be mindful not to over-schedule them. They need plenty of time to study, decompress, and recharge. Limiting afternoon naps or evening caffeine for your adolescents and teens can help them achieve consistent, deep sleep at night. Keeping that after-school nap to 30 minutes or less will help them sleep more soundly when it matters most. Pro Tip: keep their room dark, quiet, and cool – it will help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Finally, limit blue light exposure from cell phones, tablets, televisions, and other electronic devices. While it can be nice to have a TV in your child’s room for an easy source of entertainment, it can often be very distracting when your child is trying to fall asleep. Studies show children exposed to blue light before bedtime experience poorer quality sleep and that blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time for sleep.^
Sleep Foundation: Back to School Sleep Tips
Sleep Foundation: Sleep Hygiene