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Heading back to school after the long summer break, or starting school for the first time takes some adjustment for our kids. Making new friends, getting used to a new teacher, new environment and getting the brain back into learning mode can be emotionally draining. It’s also physically tiring especially if the school run involves walking or scooting, along with all the running around during break time.

Children are also likely to be dealing with a post holiday sleep hangover. The result of letting them stay up later to enjoy the lovely summer evenings which in turn results in later morning wake ups. These sleep/wake changes will impact on their circadian rhythms (the body’s natural daily cycles) making it difficult for children to readjust when term starts and you may find them struggling to fall asleep at bedtime and waking up groggy when it’s time for school.

  1. Reestablish your school routine asap

Similar to coping with a daylight saving clock change you can either go cold turkey and switch to your new timings immediately or you can start to work bedtime and wake up’s 15 mins earlier each day. Either way once you are on your new schedule stick to these timings even at weekends to keep your child’s circadian rhythm on track.

  1. Early nights are your trump card

If your child is absolutely shattered before bedtime don’t try and keep them going until later. The result of pushing them through this tiredness will be a second wind. This means their body has released a shot of cortisol which acts like a kick of adrenaline to wake them up. With that you will find difficultly settling to sleep, frequent night waking and early rising. Instead use an early night as your trump card. Up to an hour earlier will be ok in the short term if you think they need it. This will prevent overtiredness from creeping in, your child will sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed. Use your child as a guide for when is best to send them to bed.

  1. Power naps for the win!

If your child needs a quick 30min (or less) power nap in the afternoon that is perfectly fine and let it happen. Don’t worry about how this will affect their bedtime. They need this snooze to help cope with the adjustment of the new day. The same goes for weekends. Its an ideal time to let your child have some extra naps help to recharge their batteries. You might even want to plan a longer car journey specifically for this reason.

  1. Ensure enough wind down time before bed

Remember that blue light from devices and TV’s will suppress your child’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Be sure you turn off all screens at least one hour to an hour and a half before bed and encourage some quieter play with toys, puzzles, books etc to help wind down after the busy school day and get their bodies prepped and ready for sleep with all that lovely melatonin production.

  1. Don’t take on to much at the start

Unless you need to for childcare reasons, it’s wise to save after school activities until later in the school year. During the first term, getting home for some down time has huge benefits.

Wishing you all a very happy new term.

What year is your child going into? I would love to hear in the comments below.

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