Resetting Your Child’s Biological Clock For The School Year

Some kids are back in school. Others will be as of next week. Either way, many kids are going to need to reset their biological clock for the school year.girlwithclock

Keep in mind that many kids’ sleep habits changed over the summer: bedtimes got later, as did wake-up times. In addition, unless there was a lot of structure, there may have been more variability in sleep and wake times. So a first principle is that it may be necessary to reset your child’s biological clock. If school hasn’t started yet (or if it just started), one way to do this is by gradually adjusting the bedtime by rather small intervals every night (say by 30 minutes or even 15 minutes). The idea here is that kids are not going to be used to being tired yet at their typical school year bedtime. By making small changes every night (for example, heading off to bed 15 minutes earlier than the summer bedtime one night, then 15 minutes earlier than that the next night, etc.), you can help your child’s internal schedule reset to the school year. And because they will have to wake up earlier at a set time every morning, their bodies should catch on pretty quickly.

A second principle is that it may be important to try to stick to the school week sleep and wake times on the weekend for a while to help your child’s body acclimate to the new schedule. Weekends are a good time for catch-up sleep during the school year, but it can’t be taken to an extreme — maybe an extra hour or two is optimal depending on the child. That said, adhering to that right now might be pushing it until the new routine is established. So you might want to wait at least a few weeks before you embrace weekend catch-up sleep.

We all know that establishing and enforcing a child’s sleep schedule is not necessarily an easy thing. Starting now and setting up good routines that provide optimal amounts of sleep may be one of the most important things you can do to help your child have a successful school year.

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  1. by Trisreal

    On September 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks! This is also helpful for me as a soon to be former SAHM going back to work on a completely different schedule than what I’ve been keeping for the last 10 months!

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