How to get your kids into a back-to-school sleep routine

Photo of a backpack. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Back-to-school season can bring a lot of excitement for your kids.

They will be seeing old friends, meeting new ones and discovering new interests.

But, it also means having to wake up earlier and get to school on time.

Dr. Michael McKenna, a pediatrician at St. Vincent, says the best way to get your kids back into a sleep routine is to start a day, two days or even a week before school starts.

He says that can be challenging when kids in central Indiana go back to school in August when the sun is still out. 

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But he adds “the good thing about behaviors is that it’s never too late to start learning them.” So even if school already started, decide to set a bedtime rule and stick to it. 

Sumi Maun is a mother of two from Carmel.

In about a week, Avi and Shayen Maun, start 7th and 4th grade.

They will have to move up their wakeup time from 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Maun says having her boys meet up with school friends they didn’t see during summer can help. She says it helps them associate school friends with being back at school. 

Still Dr. McKenna says it’s that bedtime that makes a real difference. 

“Start walking back that bedtime by a half an hour every day, every two days so that you’re moving from that 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. bedtime to that 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. bedtime that you have during the school year,” said Dr. McKenna.

Maun added, “the earlier we start the process of getting them to bed at an earlier time, it’s just better for them mentally as the school year goes on.”

Dr. McKenna says as the excitement of being back at school wears off, kids might struggle a bit getting up.

He says if it becomes persistent, parents should start to ask themselves what else could be going on.

Are they worried about school? Is there a bully? Could there be a health issue?

Dr. McKenna advises talking to your kids and doctor about any sleep issues so they can get a full mental and physical check-up.