So, we’re about a month in to the 2022/2023 school year. Let’s do a pulse check.
How’s everybody doing?
Have you made it through their first cold or flu?
Is it a bit easier to get everyone out the door in the morning?
Have drop offs gone smoother?
We hope so!
If you sent your child to school for the first time this year, we know how tricky this season can be – both for them, and for you. While there’s a lot you can do to set them up for success at school – like teaching them to write their name, how to follow multi-step directions and going to the bathroom independently – the one thing that will truly set them up for success, is adequate SLEEP.
While everyone’s approach to guiding their child through the first school years are different, one thing is certain; establishing habits that lead to a good night’s sleep gives kids a leg up when making the transition to formal schooling.
The Canadian Paediatric Society and The American Academy of Sleep Medicine state that children ages three to five should be getting ten to 13 hours of sleep each night. A recent study called “Sleep Duration and Kindergarten Adjustment” claims that children who get ten hours or more per night are more engaged in school and perform higher academically throughout the year. The study also found this was especially the case for children who were getting ten hours of sleep each night, or more, before beginning kindergarten.
Another thing to note is that this ten hours of sleep in a 24-hour period needs to happen overnight, meaning naps don’t count. We know that uninterrupted sleep is the most restful and healthiest kind of sleep for adults and children. Sleep that’s broken by waking during the night leads to daytime sleepiness, a decrease in mental flexibility and attention… ask any sleep-deprived parent of a newborn and they’ll confirm this to be true. Sleep deprivation can also impact your child’s mood, behavior, and cognitive ability while healthy sleep can help your child concentrate, strengthen their memory, and helps them regulate their emotions.
Simply put, sleep is a vital necessity for a happy and healthy life. So, as you prepare to send your little one off to school for the first time this fall, we encourage you to set them up for sleep success. You may be asking, ‘how do I do that?’ We’re here to help.
Help your child sleep well by:
- Developing a regular sleep schedule – if you know your child needs to be awake at 6:30am, they need to be in bed, lights out by 7:30pm at the very latest.
- Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine – whether we’ve intentionally set it or not, we all have little bedtime routines. Going through the same actions each night helps your child’s body and mind prepare for sleep. For example, their 20-30-minute routine may be; washing their face, brushing their teeth, into their jammies, reading time and goodnights before lights out. Because we want your little one to fall asleep alone and independently, it’s key that they go into bed awake and on their own.
The key to setting this routine is consistency. To help your child embrace their new bedtime routine, we suggest always giving a five-minute warning. A timer is a great tool to implement here – your child will likely love pushing the buttons to set it and turn it off and it neutralizes the countdown.
- Setting up a soothing sleep environment – getting into bed while the sun is still out can be hard. We suggest getting your child’s room nice and dark and using a white noise machine to drown out any outside noise. If your child needs a nightlight, opt for something dim and simple. Anything that plays music, moves, or changes color may just be a distraction.
Keep your child’s room nice and cool (16-20 C is optimal) and make sure all toys and devices are removed from their sleep space.
- Limiting screen time and avoiding caffeine and sugar – we suggest turning off televisions or computers at least one hour before your child’s bedtime routine begins.
The “Sleep Duration and Kindergarten Adjustment” study confirms what we already believed to be true – which is that, to set your child up for success in school, we should pay particular attention to sleep quality and regularity. There are so many elements of the school season that parents can’t control.
- Will my child like school?
- Will they make friends?
- Will they understand what they’re being taught?
But they can lay the foundation for healthy sleep at home. If you’re reading this and thinking “is it too late? My child has already started school!” or “my child isn’t sleeping ten hours each night!” Don’t panic.
We get that no two children are the same and neither are their sleep challenges. If your school-aged child:
- Doesn’t know how to fall asleep on their own
- Is coming into your room at night
- Going to bed way too late
- Is struggling with fear
- Loves a good stalling tactic
We can help.
Click here to book your free 15-minute consultation with one of our experienced, certified sleep consultants. During this call we will listen, gather your sleep concerns, and navigate what may be causing a sleep disruption for your child. Based on the information received during the call, we will offer you the most supportive program to help you reach your sleep goals and set your school-aged child up for success.