Sleep: An Essential Back-to-School Supply
No one knows what the upcoming school year will look like.
Some of you have already gone back, while other areas, like here in NYC, don't start until early September. Regardless of whether your child is doing remote learning, in-school learning, or a combination of both, it's super important that they are on a sleep schedule that's conducive to maximizing their brain power!
There are numerous scientific studies that link sleep deprivation in children to learning and behavioral issues throughout childhood. A 2017 article from the Harvard Gazette reads:
Children ages 3 to 7 who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have problems with attention, emotional control, and peer relationships in mid-childhood, according to a new study led by a Harvard pediatrician. “We found that children who get an insufficient amount of sleep in their preschool and early school-age years have a higher risk of poor neurobehavioral function at around age 7,” says Elsie Taveras, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and chief of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, who led the study.
Sleep deprivation also impacts our immune system, which is especially perilous as we face the possibility of COVID-19 entering our children's school buildings, not to mention our homes. (We also fear for the health and safety of teachers, school staff, and administrators!) Then cold and flu season comes around, and ugh. We need that immunity to be strong!!!
So what can parents do to set their kids up for school success?
1) End screen time 1-1.5 hours before bedtime. TVs, phones, and tablets emit blue light, which interferes with our bodies' natural melatonin production.
2) Take ALL screens out of your child's room overnight. In 2004, the National Sleep Foundation commissioned a study of sleep problems in children under age 10 - see all their findings here.
"Shorter sleep time is associated with more TV watching,” says Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, a member of the Poll Task Force. “It’s impossible to say which is the chicken and which is the egg, but it does raise a red flag about TV sets in bedrooms. The bottom line is that the association with reduced sleep is something parents should consider when furnishing their children’s bedrooms.”
3) If your child has developed a late-to-bed sleep schedule over the summer, it's time to start pushing it earlier! Check here to see how much sleep your child needs for their age (note that the majority of toddlers and many preschoolers get part of their sleep from naps). Count back that many hours from when they need to get up for school - that's their new bedtime. Push bedtime back 15 minutes every night until you hit the goal bedtime.
4) Make sleep a priority in your home. I would be a total hypocrite if I said I NEVER went to bed too late. I do. Frequently. As Little Monster gets older, I want to continue to set a good example for him, and one of the ways I can do that is by modeling healthy sleep habits. Plus, it's really hard to pour from an empty cup - take care of yourselves, Monster fam!
For setting up great habits for great sleep any time of the year, download my FREE booklet, "The Seven Components of Great Sleep: A No-Drama Guide for Little Monsters of All Ages"!
You can also book a free 15 minute call to discuss how I can help YOUR family start the school year off right!