Setting bedtimes during the school year

During the summertime, we tend to be more permissive about our children's sleeping schedule. But once the school year begins, we must set bedtimes for our children. Adequate sleep is the best way to keep children concentrated, in shape and in a good mood; ready to face a full day of school!

While we no longer respect our usual routine during the holidays, we must bring it back when school starts. Here are some facts that will help you set the ideal bedtime.

Age is a factor

  • From the age of 2 to 6, it is important that your child gets around 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
  • Between 7 and 12, children should get at least 10 hours of sleep to stay healthy. Sometimes, they will need up to 12 hours. 
  • By the time they are between 13 to 16 years old, your teenagers will need 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night. 

Consider the waking times

If you know that your child needs 10 hours of sleep, it is important to send them to bed early enough, but not too early. Remember that if you send them to bed around 7:30PM, they will wake up around 5:30AM and wake YOU up! Determine your waking time and try to plan your child’s bedtime accordingly.

The evening schedule

If you have late dinner, remember that the digestive process must have started a while before putting your child to bed. You must consider your evening habits too when setting bedtimes. At least 1-2 hours after dinner would be a perfect bedtime.

It depends on your routine

Establishing a routine is as important as getting the right amount of sleep. Before the scheduled bedtime, take some quality time with your kids in a quiet environment. Read a story, discuss or write a journal together (your child writes before going to bed and you write back when they sleep so they can read your message in the morning).

Nothing too intellectual should be initiated before bedtime. For example, homework shouldn’t be done just before sleeping. Firstly, because your child will be too tired to do it and because their brain will be in a thinking or panic mode (if they can’t concentrate) when they will try to fall asleep. For the same reasons, you should avoid video games and overexcited TV shows. Taking a bath or a shower before sleeping is also a good way to calm down and prepare for a peaceful night of sleep. This routine must be as fixed as the waking time.

« Mom, I don’t want to go to sleep! »

After setting a bedtime, you will face another difficulty… Will your child WANT to sleep? What should you do? 

Children can’t sleep for many reasons, all equally distant from each other. First and foremost, try to understand if he or she doesn’t want to sleep or if he or she can’t. Try to figure out why. If they have fears, reassure them. If they feel too awake, maybe you should avoid chocolate after dinner, reduce nap times, or try a bath or a shower before bed to relax them. Fixed bedtimes usually reassure children when it comes to falling asleep. Maybe you should read a story? After a while, they will want to read their book by themselves before going to sleep and you will have killed two birds with one stone.

You can also try relaxation exercises with your child or play soft music. The first days may be hard but your child will slowly get used to going to sleep at the appointed time and you’ll see that with homework, extracurricular activities, sports and other daily activities, they’ll be very pleased when their head hits their pillow!

Image de Nadine Descheneaux

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