Lack of sleep can make it harder for kids to learn and do well in school. But it can be tricky to get on a school-friendly sleep schedule, especially if your tween or teen has been staying up late (and then sleeping in). Here are some steps to follow to get back on track.
1. Make small changes to wake-up time.
Don’t expect kids to start waking up three hours earlier, if that’s how late they’ve been sleeping in. Start by adjusting your child’s wake-up time an hour earlier. Then gradually wake your child up earlier and earlier over the course of a week.
2. Slowly adjust bedtime too.
Getting up earlier should make it easier to go to bed earlier. Help your child make small changes that slowly push bedtime up earlier.
3. Make sure your child stays active.
Getting exercise during the day—yoga, sports, or even walking—can help your child sleep better at night. But slow things down about three hours before bedtime.
4. Discourage midday crashes.
If your child has been staying up really late, a midday nap might seem pretty tempting. Try not to let tweens and teens crash during the day, or they may be wide awake at bedtime.
5. Try to keep electronics out of the bedroom.
Teens are notorious for texting and playing on their phones long into the night. Discourage the temptation as best you can. A good strategy is to charge all family electronics in a common area, like the living room.
6. Phase out electronics an hour before bedtime.
The stimulation of phones, tablets, and video games at night can prevent kids from winding down. Give your child advance warning at night before the no-electronics rule goes into effect. This way your child has time to finish up conversations and games. You can use a cell phone contract to get everyone on the same page.
7. Encourage your child to create a bedtime ritual.
Even teens need to cue their bodies for sleep. Putting on pajamas, doing a few stretches, and reading for 10 minutes may help get kids ready for bed.
8. Set the stage for sleep.
Help your child nod off by turning off the lights and closing the blinds. Keep the temperature in bedrooms cool.