How to Get Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule for School

Back to school and back to early mornings.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

If summer vacation was full of long nights and sleeping in for your kids, the first day of school can be a rude awakening. We know how lousy we feel if we don’t get enough sleep, and kids are no different. In fact, studies show that poor sleep habits can lead to lower grades, behavioral problems and health issues in kids. So, before the bell rings on the first day of school, here’s how to help your child transform their sleep routine:

  1. First, figure out a bedtime and the time your kids need to be awake on school mornings. According to, kids aged 6 to 12 need around 9 to 12 hours of sleep while older kids need around 8 to 10.

  2. Gradually adjust their sleep schedule by 10-15 minutes every night and every morning. This helps kids naturally adjust their biological clocks to an earlier sleep and wake time for the school year. This means you’ll need a few days or a few weeks to adjust, including weekends.

  3. Reinstate a nighttime routine that works for you and your kids. While summertime often results in ignoring routines, now is the time to restart age-appropriate trends for your child. Help them relax and prepare for rest with a bath or shower, book and then, lights out.

  4. Turn off technology early. Summer may have meant lots of screen time for your kids but shutting down a few hours before bed can relax kids and prepare them for rest.

  5. Exercise during the day will lead to better sleep at night. So, get your kids moving or, better yet, join them so you’ll sleep better, too.

  6. Stress and school anxiety can keep your kids up at night. You can help by talking to your kids about how they are feeling and how they can reduce their nervousness about the new school year.

  7. If your older kids are fans of coffee or energy drinks, cut out the caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.

  8. Eat dinner early because big meals can keep kids up at night.

With these tips, your kids will be transitioning from night owls to early birds in no time!


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