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How to Get Back on a Regular Sleep Schedule After the Winter Break

In order for children to perform at their best in school, experts agree that they need to have a good night’s sleep and a well-balanced diet. But getting kids to want to sleep or eat healthy meal choices can be a challenge. It’s often even more difficult to get back to normal routines with sleep and nutrition after an extended break, such as summer and winter breaks. Here are tips you can use to help get your children back on a regular sleep schedule after this winter break.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

All parents have probably been there at one point or another – the bed time negotiation. It looks something like this:

Parent: “Ok, you have 5 more minutes until bed time.”

Child: [Grooooaaaan.] Why can’t I just stay up later???”

Parent: “Because you need sleep to feel good and do well in school. I’ll let you have 10 extra minutes, but that’s it.”

Child: “But Johnny’s mom lets him stay up late, even on school nights.”

Parent: “Well I’m not Johnny’s mom – I’m your mom!”

Does this sound familiar? Even if your children balk at the idea, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that school-aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep per night, with a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. While some children may seem like they need more or less sleep, these are the recommended hours for optimal health for children ages 6-13.

How Do We Get Back on a Normal Sleep Schedule?

For many students, the winter break offers a welcomed reprieve from school for anywhere from 2-4 weeks. This time is also often marked with busy travel schedules, vacation plans, and other activities that may wreck havoc on the normal sleep schedule. According to this article from Everyday Health, a few proven strategies for getting back on your normal sleep schedule include turning off electronics, avoiding caffeine, setting (and sticking!) to rules for sleep, and starting as early as possible.

These are just a few ideas to help get sleep back on track in your family. As always, do what works best for your children and consult your child’s pediatrician if you suspect he/she is suffering from any sleep disorders or other conditions that may make sleeping difficult. Take heart that your efforts now, no matter how challenging the bed time battles may be, will have long term payoff for your child – in the classroom and beyond!

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