As the summer draws to a close, there are many items on a parent’s “to do” list to get ready for the upcoming school year. But have you considered taking a close look at your preschooler’s sleep schedule? Multiple studies show that well rested children perform better in school, are more adept at solving problems and exhibit fewer behavioral issues both in and out of the classroom. Helping your child become better rested in preparation for the start of the school year is easy! Here are some simple solutions to aide your child in getting more restorative sleep:
Take a look at your child’s bedtime. Children between the ages of 2-4 need approximately 11-13 hours of total day and night sleep. A biologically appropriate bedtime for children this is age is between 6:30-7:00. Do you think your child is overtired? Look for the signs of overtiredness, including high energy in the time leading up to bed, refusal to go to sleep, or oversleeping in the morning. If your child’s bedtime is later than this and exhibits these signs, start pushing bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every few days until you reach this sleep window.
Avoid using a TV, iPad or tablet as part of a bedtime routine. While it may seem soothing for a child to play some games or watch a show before bedtime, the blue light emitted from electronic screens can suppress melatonin, a hormone essential to helping people fall and stay asleep. It is recommended that all screen time is eliminated 90 minutes before bed to help to body create melatonin. Instead, encourage your child to read, color or draw as a soothing pre-bedtime routine. Are you having trouble falling asleep as well? This same rule applies to adults too!
Establish a brief but clear bedtime routine. Children thrive on consistency and knowing what to expect in their day. Many preschool classrooms have a daily list on the wall so children can gain a sense of routine and consistency. The same rule applies for a bed or nap routine. At the same time each evening, begin a routine that lasts about 15 minutes. A sample routine is: bath time, brush teeth, read a book and sing a song. This nightly ritual will help children understand that bedtime is approaching and will allow them to mentally and physically prepare for a good night’s slumber.
Respect the naptime. Most children until the age of 4 still require an afternoon nap, and many preschools and daycares offer children an opportunity to rest. To help your child transition from play to rest, have him or her pack his favorite blanket or stuffed animal that will help soothe him during this time. On weekends, take extra care to offer a nap to children each afternoon to help their bodies maintain a solid sleep schedule.
By following these tips, you have confidence that your child will be well rested and ready for the exciting adventures that await them at preschool!
Amy Gemmiti, LCSW is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and Founder of Drifting to Dreamland. Amy provides individual sleep consultations for infants through school aged children. Interested in learning more? Contact Amy at (508) 944-8699 or visit her website at www.driftingtodreamland.com
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