As much as you try to stick to your sleep schedule during the summer months, it can be really tough. With the kids out of school, vacations, late-night events, and fun-filled summer days, there is a lot that can throw every family members’ sleep and wake cycles off track. As the kids get ready to go back to school, now is the perfect time to get the entire family back to their normal routines for a successful start to the school year.
Why We Need Sleep
Sleep is essential to the healthy development of children and is vital for overall health and well-being. A consistent lack of sleep or poor sleep drains your mental abilities, making it difficult to think and concentrate. It can also cause memory issues, mood changes, weaken your immune system, and increase your risk for accidents and injuries. None of these things add up to a noteworthy year – for you or your kids.
Children and teens often have schedules just as busy as their parents. Their day is filled with classes, homework, studying for tests, after-school programs, sports practice, chores, and more. A good night’s rest allows their bodies to recover from their activities and recharge for the next day.
Additionally, if your children are heading back to college, it is important to practice good sleep hygiene leading up to the start of the semester to create healthy habits that will stick with them throughout the year. According to a study by the University of Georgia, most college students are only sleeping between 6 and 6.9 hours a night, which can have a major impact on their health as well as their GPAs.
How Much Sleep Your Family Needs
It is important to ensure everyone in your household is getting adequate rest every night of the week. If not, sleep habits and routines may need to be adjusted to make falling and staying asleep easier.
Young adults, ages 18-25, and adults, ages 26 to 64, should strive for the general recommendation of 7-9 hours of sleep a night. However, kids and teens usually need a little bit more shut-eye. Children ages 6 to 11 should be sleeping between 9 and 11 hours a night. Teens ages 14-17, should be clocking at least 8 hours, but sometimes as much as 10.
It is beneficial to set sleep goals for your family, but they need to be adhered to every night of the week for better sleep, even on the weekends.
Tips to Get Sleep Back on Track
Preparation is Key
As summer comes to a close, your family should start preparing to shift their sleep and wake schedules well in advance of when the kids are back to hitting the books. It is recommended to start the process 2-3 weeks before school begins by moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier than when they’ve usually been going to sleep during the summer months. Continue this until they are going to bed at their intended bedtime for the school year.
Optimize Sleep Environment
Though you may have been lax about electronic use during the lazy days of summer, it is time to buckle down and take a blue-light break before bed. Make sure everyone sets their electronic devices to display in “night shift” mode at least 3 hours before their intended bedtime. Leave the electronics out of the bedroom and have the family start powering down at least an hour before bed so their bodies can get ready for sleep.
Additionally, you should block out other light and noise sources in the bedroom, and make sure it is nice and cool.
Create a Routine
People do better on a routine, and the same goes for sleep. Create an easy to stick to bedtime routine for everyone in the family, so there is time to relax and prepare for sleep – that includes you too.
Some ideas you can implement are:
- Doing physical activity earlier in the day
- Taking a warm bath or shower before bed
- Gentle stretching or yoga
Be Patient but Consistent
Transitioning the family’s routine from staying up and sleeping in late won’t happen overnight. Give everyone some time to start adjusting gradually, but be sure you’re sticking to the new schedule once established. Getting off track can undo the weeknight routine you’ve established.
Without enough sleep, we all have a hard time giving the best version of ourselves – that goes for children, young adults, and adults. With better sleep, you can improve your quality of life. Get the whole family on track for a great year with these helpful tips for transitioning sleep schedules.