How to Get Your Kids Back on a Sleep Schedule
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Tips and Tricks to Get Your Kids Sleep Schedule Back on Track.
My kids sleep schedule isn’t just on a to-do list.
It’s a necessity.
Sleep is soooo crazy important for us busy Mamas, of course, but did you know how important it is to those little precious monsters you birthed? Aw, Girl–So. Important.
When kids sleep, it helps them grow, it lets their brains rest and reset, and it promotes the development that’s in overdrive for those little monkeys. That’s why a kids sleep schedule is just that much more important.
So what’s the best way to just bite the bullet and get your kids sleep schedule back on track? Well, since every kid is different, we’ve tried a few different tactics. But here are the basics:
A Few Minutes at a Time
My very first recommendation is to move bedtimes a few minutes at a time every night until you get to the right place. Kids can usually handle those little time changes no problem. And in case they’re not moving with you at that rate, move it a few minutes back or forward, keep that time for a couple days, then move again until you get to the correct bed time.
A Little Supplemental Help
We’ve had luck using the kid-doses of melatonin when needed (and don’t do this just because I’m suggesting it–talk to your doc before giving your kid any supplements or meds.) It gives just a teeny amount of sleepy to get kids ready for bed if their internal clocks still aren’t adjusting. The smallest dose I’ve found is 3mg, and you can actually find it in the quick-dissolve tablets.
Make Sure Your Bed-Time Routine is Solid
A good kids sleep schedule usually is preceded by a bedtime routine. You probably started this when your kids were babies, and many people just continue these even when kids are older. It’s a really good idea to keep doing it, though. Because even as adults we need a wind-down routine to get more calmed and settled before bed. Keep at the routine, but add in a few extra things if it feels like the change in time is still messing with them.
Get Rid of the Blue Lights
This is really recommended whether or not you’re trying to readjust your kids sleep schedule. Blue lights in screens has been shown to interfere with the natural circadian rhythm, thereby altering sleep. For the worse, that is. The blue lights are in tablets, phones, computer monitors, and even tv screens. So make sure you’re cutting off electronics at dinnertime to help with that. If you have a kid that’s got to do homework after dinner regularly, maybe think about investing in glasses that block blue lights.
Plan for Sleep Cycles
Something I hadn’t considered regarding bedtimes came about when I started studying my own sleep habits.
About two years ago I noticed that I was waking up at crazy hours and couldn’t go back to sleep. I also had trouble falling asleep (which has NEVER in my life happened. Ask my husband, it makes him super annoyed that I can fall asleep in five minutes flat.) So in addition to having some hormone tests run by my doc, I used my Fitbit and the app to track my sleep. I also did some digging on sleep cycles, because there are a few apps that claim they can wake you at optimal times before your alarm goes off so you don’t feel groggy.
What I found is that each full sleep cycle is about an hour and a half. And that the average person needs 5-6 sleep cycles a night to be fully rested and at their best. I’m still not certain why teens seem to need like 12 sleep cycles a day. But I suspect it has something to do with the secret screen times that happen from their hidden (unbeknownst-to-parents) devices till all hours of the night. (And don’t think your kid’s not doing it!! Our seemingly innocent and well-behaved teen was caught doing this with an old iphone that she found–those things still can use wi-fi even if they’re not active with phone service!) Anyhoo– 5-6 sleep cycles a night.
The older a child gets, the less sleep cycles they may need. My kids were always good sleepers as babies and would actually do 12-hour nights. The older they got, the shorter the time in bed. Our 9 year old (who always slept longer than the younger two) can still go 12 hours. But the 8 and 4 year old do maybe 9-10 max. The point is that all kids are different, just like all of us adults are different.
What I have found helpful is this site that has a sleep calculator. It factors in time it takes to go to sleep plus times for sleep cycles to find the best bedtime for your kid. Go HERE to check it out. What we do, and I recommend, is to also keep a log of bedtimes and how your kid feels in the morning with that amount of sleep.
You can get the printable log page to print out as many copies as you need for FREE. Just click the image below to get it!
What strategies have you used to get back into the sleep schedule for school? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Let me know in the comments!
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