School is starting up again. And along with it, alarm clocks are ringing, forcing kids who slept in all summer to rise before the sun. Maybe you’re lucky enough that your kid doesn’t need help getting ready in the morning, or perhaps you’re already at the office by the time that they are hauling themselves out of bed. On the other hand, if your kid is younger or just is not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, you might be rubbing your eyes beside them.
Lack of sleep has negative effects on academic performance, weight management, cardiac health, and more. We all know that kids need sleep. We all know that we need sleep. It’s putting it into practice that’s difficult. Especially with the start of the school year, where every minute of every weekday is accounted for, enforcing a strict bedtime can be impossible, even when you know the basics. “Stick to an early bedtime.” “No screen time right before bed.” We’ve heard that before. It doesn’t work. It’s time to shift our focus from how can we get our kids to sleep more to how can we get them out of bed on time. Here’s some real sleep tips to help you through the school year.
Plan around the REM cycle
There are several stages of the REM cycle, and waking up in the middle of one is disorienting and makes your child cling to the pillow for a little longer. Instead, use sleep calculators to determine when your kid should be going to sleep. If your child wakes up after completing a REM cycle, even if they didn’t get enough sleep, they will feel more awake.
Play around with alarm clocks
These days, your kid probably uses their phone as an alarm. Now, remember, they’re supposed to avoid screen time, but that can be difficult when it’s left charging by their bed all night. This can actually be a blessing in disguise. Have your kid download a couple different alarm clock apps and see which one works best. There’s tons available that have a lot of different features- from slowly easing them awake with steadily brighter lights and louder sounds to forcing them to execute math equations in order to turn off the blaring noise. Sometimes a particularly jaunty song can motivate a kid to rise, other times it’ll just inspire intense hatred for the familiar beat.
Let them Sleep
We’ve all heard that there’s no such thing as “catching up” on sleep during the weekends, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some benefits. It’s better than forcing yet another night of sleep deprivation. Letting your kid sleep in on Saturday and Sunday, especially combined with naps, can reverse some of the damage done, hopefully allowing them to keep going for yet another week.
Follow These Tips Yourself
You don’t want your kid to be late to school because of you. I know that once the kids are asleep, this can be your only time alone or with your partner, but it’s still important that you get some rest too. Now, in keeping with the rest of this article, I don’t actually expect any of you to get more sleep. Instead, focus on waking up better. If you’re more present in the morning, this can ease your child’s morning routine considerably.
On the other hand, if you trust your kid to get ready alone, and work doesn’t start for another hour, keep on sleeping. You’ve got a lot of missed z’s to catch up on.