Q. With school starting in a couple of weeks, how can parents best transition children from a laxer summer bedtime schedule back to a predictable nighttime routine?
A: Start right now, recommends Rebecca Kammerer, a pediatric sleep coach who owns Sleep Cadets in Mineola. Kids — and parents — need a couple of weeks to adjust to the new pattern to avoid starting the school year sleep deprived, she says.
Consider the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation that children ages 6 to 13 need at least 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and that kids ages 14 to 18 need 8 to 10, she says. Decide what time your children will need to wake up in the morning for school in the coming academic year, and subtract backward to choose an optimal bedtime, she says.
Then, select one of two ways to set the new routine: One, go cold turkey and start tonight putting them to bed at the earlier time and waking them up at the time they’d be getting up once school starts.
If that seems too drastic, Kammerer recommends putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier every night or two — and waking them up 15 minutes earlier — until you reach the desired bedtime and wake up hour. Make sure you — or the kids — reset an alarm so they are getting up at the appropriate time each day.
Kammerer also recommends parents get into the new pattern starting now as well. She recommends parents plan to wake up an hour before the kids during the beginning of the school year to shower, dress and have a cup of coffee or exercise, “so that you are awake enough to deal with kids who may be resistant.”