Waking Up to a Back-to-School Sleep Schedule

By Aseel Salhab, Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

Most families are lenient with sleep schedules during summer break. That’s normal, as they go on vacations, relatives visit from abroad and children engage in more outdoor activities and less structure. This month, I will advise on how to help your child adjust to their Fall schedule!

Getting back to sleep should be incremental as your child has been on vacation for three months. I suggest starting a week before school begins to make bedtime 15 minutes earlier. Adjusting to a new schedule takes time. As you give your child time to adapt to the new routine, patience and consistency are key.

Tips for getting your child back on schedule
Switching off all screens two hours before bedtime to help your child’s brain calm down and prepare for sleep
Engaging in activities that require quiet time, like reading and listening to soft music with dim lighting
Closing all shades and blinds if it’s still sunny; darkness helps release the sleep hormone (melatonin)
Starting your routine early: Brushing teeth, showering and wearing pyjamas
Adjusting wake-up times by making them wake up every day at the same timing so the circadian rhythm will get back to normal
Adjusting nap times for babies who nap through the day; try to get them to sleep in their correct nap timeframe so they can sleep on time at night
Engaging your child in exercise or active activities throughout the day so they will be tired by the time they sleep!Creating a sleep-friendly environment: Closed blinds, comfortable room temperature and devices out of the room

Creating a quiet time environment before school
As children wind down from an active summer and transition back to school, parents need to work on creating quiet time opportunities. I don’t mean the absence of noise, but light activities that relax the mind and soul. Examples are playing with blocks or Lego or doing mindful colouring.
You can also set a good example for your children by paying attention to the quality and quantity of sleep that your child is receiving. You can do this by also adjusting your sleep routine.

Back-to-school sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is vital for making kids go to sleep peacefully at night. Below are some tips for achieving it:
1. Exercising regularly: Exercise promotes sleep and reduces stress. Try to avoid heavy activities after five or six in the evening as they may raise adrenaline level
2. Limiting naps: Some children come home tired from schools and might need to nap, so try to engage with your child to avoid this afternoon nap which might affect mood and night sleep
3. Cutting back on caffeine: Other than tea and coffee, caffeine is in chocolate, drinks, juices and other liquids kids might drink . So try to avoid them before sleep time

You can contact Aseel Salhab at aseel.babymoon@gmail.com