If you have school-age kids, you know the drill. Summer comes along, and out goes the bedtime routine. In many homes, the TV is on longer, the computers and iPads and smart phones are glowing long after dark, and kids normally asleep by 9 or 10 p.m. find themselves awake and thrilled as the clock ticks late into the night.
Then, along comes then the new school year. And with it, the ominous, torturous reality of early morning. Suddenly, an internal clock used to the loose-knit schedule of summer becomes subjected to the hard reality of rigor once again.
It's enough to make one downright cranky.
But there are ways to ease the late-slumbering student back into the early morning routine. We've asked our readers on the Walnut Creek Facebook page to weigh in. Here is what they said:
Stephanie Fishkin Dark: When my kids were younger we would start setting their wakeup time back a half hour every few days until they were at the proper wakeup time (bedtime was also rolled back accordingly). We aimed for at least three days at the earliest wake up time prior to the first day of school.
Dorene Smith Silva: Parents need to change the tone of the house and curtail their own lax behavior. Dinner needs to be ready around 5 or 6 for an 8:00pm bedtime. It's really difficult shut summer off when it's still light out at bedtime!
Our Next Movie: All electronics off at a reasonable time. Cell phones, laptops, game boys, etc. are too stimulating to the young minds and contribute to late nights.
Dorothy Tatting Slauson: For the most part our bedtime schedule never really changed, except that they don't like going to bed when it's still light outside so we wait until it's getting dark. We go upstairs together a little earlier than usual, the days are getting shorter which helps a little bit...I turn the lights down and lie on the bed with them and talk about the events of our summer or our day...If they are young, we might sing a song or read a story.
Nicole Hamilton Reed: We transition an hour earlier each week for the three weeks prior to school. Since my kids are teenagers, they tend to stay up late. So, by having them move their bedtime by one hour each week for an entire week, it allows them to transition easier to getting up early for school.
Judy Mimiago Fain: Winter, spring, or summer, bedtime was always the same.
And here is some advice from sleep and health experts:
- Gradually reintroduce earlier bedtimes: Work towards getting your pre-teen to bed by 8:30. That gives them 30 minutes to fall asleep and 10 hours to sleep by the time they have to get up at 7:00 a.m. If they need to get up earlier, they should go to bed earlier as well. For teens, aim for a 9:00 p.m. bedtime—which means no more late-night TV watching - Besthealthmag.ca
- Look Beyond Bedtime: “If we approach sleep appropriately," Family psychologist David Swanson, author of HELP-- My Kid is Driving Me Crazy, says, "we look at a kid’s whole day. If you want your kids back to sleep on time, have dinner at a set time and limit the computer, TV, and video game time,” he says. “You’re not just trying to get them back to bed, but into a routine.” - webMD.com
- Turn off electronics: To help your kids wind down, all electronics — TV, video games, computers, and cell phones — should be shut off an hour earlier. -everydayhealth.com
- Be a role model: Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep. -sleepfoundation.org