7 Tips for Getting Back into a Sleep Routine Before School Starts

With the lack of schedules during summer vacation, it's important to get back into a sleep routine before going back to school.
7 Tips for Getting Back into a Sleep Routine Before School Starts

Last update: 17 September, 2022

Vacation is that time when there’s no rush and no structured routine. Children go to bed and wake up without fixed schedules, and spontaneous plans abound. We have the whole day ahead of us, with no agenda and no obligations. Consequently, the routine is completely altered–especially your child’s sleep routine. Of course, after several weeks or months of this lifestyle, getting back into a sleep routine can be a challenge.

Going back to school requires us to make major adjustments, and sometimes this feels torturous. However, there are some recommendations that allow us to get back into a sleep routine before going back to school and make this transition a little more pleasant. Let’s see what they are.

Preparing for back to school is much more than just getting organized

First of all, it should be made clear that going back to school also involves an emotional and psychological process. It means the beginning of a new year or a new stage that will have its own challenges and learning experiences.

Therefore, it’s not only a matter of establishing a routine and order, but also of having the ability to accompany children and adolescents. To do so, we must create spaces for dialogue, questions, and the expression of desires, fears, and expectations. We must also be able to communicate and transmit enthusiasm and joy for what’s to come.

7 tips for getting back into a sleep routine before the return to school

Some of the recommendations for resting well and getting back into a sleep routine are the following:

A little girl sleeping while snuggling her teddy bear.
About 10 days before school starts, it’s good to start implementing the routine gradually so that children achieve good rest.

1. Take a few days off before going back to school to practice

That’s to say, start your routine a few days ahead of time as if school had already started. In the final days before going back to school, it’s important to try to re-establish schedules and routines. For example, going to bed early, not watching television after a certain time, and bathing at a certain time of the day, among others.

2. Apply the 20-minute regime

In line with the previous recommendation, some experts suggest starting this practice 10 days before going back to school. A good idea is to move your child’s bedtime ahead in blocks of 20-minutes blocks. For example, if during the vacation, your child goes to bed at 9 p.m. and your goal is for them to go to bed at 8, you can achieve this in the following way:

  • During the first days: Your child will go to bed at 8:40 pm.
  • On days 4 to 6, you’ll move that time ahead by 20 more minutes, so your child should go to bed at 8:20 pm.
  • On the remaining days, your child can already start going to bed at 8:00 pm.

3. Re-establish the meal regime

Vacation is a period that lends itself to enjoying junk food or fast food: Hamburgers, pizzas, and sweets, among others. However, food also influences the quality of our rest. Therefore, during the days before going back to school, it’s also important that we try to return to a more balanced and less caloric diet.

4. Carry out the most physically demanding activities during the day

Both exercise and sport have numerous benefits for sleep. After physical activity children are more tired in the evening and it’s easier for them to fall asleep. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to leave the quieter and more relaxing activities for the last hours of the day. This way, we get them to start disconnecting and tuning into a slower rhythm that’s suitable for rest.

A child watching TV at night.
Children should be restricted from using screens at least two hours before bedtime.

5. Discontinue the use of screens after a certain time.

To avoid brain arousal and achieve restful sleep, experts insist that children shouldn’t have access to screens at least two hours before bedtime. This includes cell phones, tablets, and television. Perhaps, during vacation, you were more flexible and allowed them other types of use, but when school is about to start, it’s important to be clear about these rules again and start enforcing them.

6. Prepare school supplies in advance

Whether we need to replace their uniform, backpack, or buy notebooks, it’s important to be able to resolve these pending issues in time. This way, we eliminate unforeseen events and the anxiety produced by leaving everything to the last minute. One way to involve children and adolescents is to ask them to help you make a list of what needs to be done or bought. This way, figuring it out becomes collaborative and, at the same time, allows them to progressively assume their responsibilities.

7. Prepare some after-school leisure activities

So that the shock of reality isn’t so strong, we can also think of some after-school activities during the first week of school. For example, take them for an ice cream cone, a bike ride around the square neighborhood, or whatever your child likes to do.

Adults should also prepare themselves

Getting back into a sleep routine and preparing for the return to school isn’t only something that concerns children and adolescents. The entire family is affected as family dynamics and activities change. In this regard, adults must also be aware of the need to get back into a routine and return to the previous way of organizing family life. Moreover, they must facilitate this daily routine and readjust their agenda and activities.

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  • Martínez Béjar, M. P. (2019). El descanso como rutina escolar en niños de 3 a 6 años para el manejo de sus emociones (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad Casa Grande. Facultad de Ecología Humana, Educación y Desarrollo).
  • Balboa Alcon, T. F. Las rutinas escolares como estrategia para el mejoramiento del desarrollo infantil de niños y niñas en educación inicial escolarizada Unidad Educativa “Americano Néstor Peñaranda” (Doctoral dissertation).