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Tips to reset your child’s sleep clock for heading back to school

Back to school means back to routine. That means getting the kids to bed earlier, so they can wake up refreshed.

For a lot of families, the holidays are period where rules relax, and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting again parents might be wondering how to reset the clock for bedtimes.

Seattle pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Meade gave the following tips to help you establish and keep a healthy sleep schedule for your kids:

1. Move up bedtime by about 10-15 minutes per night. It might take families a few days to get back on track if kids have been staying up late over break.

Don't rush it too much but be consistent about moving bedtimes up each night until you reach your target.

2. Try to keep sleep times consistent on weekends as much as possible, especially while getting back to your desired sleep/wake times.

Teens, in particular, tend to stay up until all hours of the night on weekends and then sleep until noon. There is actually a physiologic reason for this, but it can throw off their weekday wake ups.

3. Having a bedtime routine is really beneficial for younger kids, and for everyone.

Doing the same set of things just before bed (brushing teeth, taking a bath or shower, reading a book, say the best part of the day, etc.) can help establish a routine that lets the body know it's time to sleep.

4. Practicing good sleep hygiene is always important, but even more so with disruptions like school break or jet lag. Turn off screens 1-2 hours before bed, make sure the bedroom is cool/dark/quiet, and try to sleep with phones and devices out of the room.

White noise machines can be helpful to mask disruptive noises. If you or your older child/teen tends to wake at night thinking of things they need to remember or do the next day, it can be a game-changer to keep a pad and pen next to the bed.

Try writing a to-do list or any reminders for the next day before you go to sleep each night - this helps clear some of the mental clutter that tends to pop up at 2 a.m. If you do wake up thinking of something, write it down and then go back to sleep.