This article was originally published in August 2021 and last updated in December 2023.

Good sleep is essential for a good school year: during the day, a well-rested child has an easier time focusing and behaving. At night, quality sleep allows their brain to organize and store everything they learned. 

But your child’s sleep schedule isn't always at its best during times of excitement like summer break, vacation or the holidays. How can you get their sleep habits back on track? 

Connecticut Children’s pediatric sleep psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, shares tips.

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Every few days, shift your child’s sleep schedule by just 15 minutes.

This tip works best if you start today, while there’s still a bit of summer vacation left. If your child has been getting up around 8:30 am, start getting them up at 8:15 am – and move bedtime up by 15 minutes, too. Do this every few days until you see improvement.

> Related: 10 Steps to a Better Morning! Boost Your Child’s School Routine

Help your child get rid of morning grogginess.

Does your child struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Encourage them to do these three things right upon rising:

  • Get some physical activity, whether that’s jumping jacks, yoga, a walk, or something else.
  • Go outside. Sunlight tells the brain that it’s daytime!
  • Have breakfast. Have a healthy snack to boost energy levels.

These tricks teach the brain “This is my new rise time.” Over time, your child will naturally feel more energized and alert when it’s time to wake up.

Be super consistent about bedtime routines.

Your child’s routine could include things like a bedtime snack, a bath, or reading a book. Whatever their routine, the key is to do the same steps every night.

Otherwise, kids are often tempted to sneak in extra steps – like petting the dog or reading just one more story – and have trouble settling down.

> Related: 3 Bedtime Challenges Your Kids Might Be Having Now – and How to Solve Them

Plan the right amount of sleep for your child’s age.

Here’s what’s generally recommended for total daily sleep, including at night and during naps.

  • Preschool (ages 3 to 5): 10 to 13 hours
  • Elementary school (ages 6 to 12): 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (ages 13 and up): 8 to 10 hours

Your child’s individual sleep needs may be more or less than these recommendations, and can even vary from day to day. If you have questions, talk to your child’s pediatrician or one of Connecticut Children’s sleep specialists.

Have a great school year!

If you can, start practicing these sleep habits before the school year starts. That gives your child’s body time to adjust, and allows everyone some extra practice.

But even if you’re reading this midway through the school year, it’s never too late! Put these tips into place now to help your child get their best night’s sleep – for their best year yet.

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