Summertime is known for long, lazy days where bedtime and wake time often become blurred in the
hot summer sun. The school aged child who used to be up at 7:00am to get ready for school might have
been allowed to sleep in until 8am or even later. Bedtime routines often become lax and that targeted
time of dreamland may have been pushed back some for the simply joy of having more fun. It’s a
common theme, and there’s nothing “wrong” with doing so, but in order to properly prepare school
aged children for returning back to the daily grind of getting up for school practice makes perfect.
To start, look at the calendar and see the first day of school. Count back 10-14 days. This is when you
should be starting to re-train your children into earlier bedtimes and earlier wake times. Start by
changing the wake time. Do so in 15-20 minute intervals until you arrive at the desired time needed for
school. By waking earlier, moving the bedtime equally will not seem as harsh. For example, if the child
has gone to be at 9pm all summer and wakes at 8am, start by waking at 7:40am then expect bedtime to
be 8:40pm. Waiting until day or two before the first day of school creates a problem. It takes some
time for the intrinsic clock to re-regulate. Expecting a child who has gone to bed at 9pm for 16 weeks to
suddenly hop into bed and sleep at 7:30pm will not go well. Subsequently, if they do go to bed at 9pm
but then are suddenly awakened at 6:30 or 7:00am, a sleep debt will occur leaving the child groggy and
irritable as the day’s progress.
Here’s a quick list of things to do while the traditional school shopping is being completed:
1. Remember that good sleep is just as important as the new notebooks, pens &
backpacks…without good sleep your child cannot perform at their best.
2. Start a week or two earlier than the start of school to create or recreate a bedtime routine.
3. Slowing over the course of preparation, move bedtime and wake times to readjust the internal
clocks appropriate to what is needed for school.
4. Anticipate a little situational insomnia the night before school starts-many children are overly
excited or anxious which can lead to poor sleep- try offering a nap or rest period during the day
to compensate for lost sleep that night.
5. Try your best to stick to a good sleep/wake routine so that “catching up” on the weekends is not
necessary-doing so is not a healthy way to combat a growing sleep debt.