A Class in COVID: Restoring kids’ sleep schedules important for families prepping for restart of school

Back To School

(WTNH) — News 8 is helping families prepare for class in the world of COVID-19. Monday, we took a look at how best to get your children conditioned to getting up early for school again.

Back-to-school time is just around the corner and whether it is going to be going to school, distance learning, or some sort of hybrid, one thing is for sure: it means you are going to have to get your kids back on a regular sleep schedule.

Nina Clarke, a mommy blogger, has a 9-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. They stayed busy during the pandemic, but their bedtime has been pretty relaxed.

“There was a lot of sleeping in,” Clarke explained. “There was no reason to wake them up. So they slept late, they also went to bed late.”

As nice as the summer has been, Clarke knows that’s going to be a problem in about three weeks when school is back in session.

“Things can change, obviously,” she says, “but as of this moment we are planning on going back to school with a mask on five days a week.”

Dr. Frank Mongillo III explained, “The pandemic has messed everybody’s schedules up. People are staying up later, sleeping in later.” He says now is the time to start getting kids used a bedtime once again.

“A standard bedtime that you stick with even, with the weekend, and wake up at the same time each day, even Saturday and Sunday when you’re not up and getting ready to go to school,” he suggests.

The experts say to ease into it. That’s Nina’s plan: “A couple weeks before school starts I’ll start getting them to bed earlier and earlier so that they hit the goal of getting to bed at 9 p.m. right before school starts.”

She also has a rule for the kids about electronics: “We don’t do screens after dinner now. We’re trying to work on that. It’s challenging because the screens are tempting.”

But the kind of light TVs, tablets, and phones emit actually stimulates the brain and makes it harder to go to sleep. Instead, Nina has her kids read a book every night before bed.

“You also don’t want to eat too close to bedtime,” added Dr. Mongillo. “So ideally you would eat dinner a couple hours before you go to bed.”

And during the day, Dr. Mongillo says to get the kids plenty of exercise. Tire them out and they will sleep better. A good night’s sleep will not only help them do better in school but could help keep them safe, as well.

“If you’re not getting enough sleep,” he said, “you get run down and you’re more susceptible to infection.”

All good reasons to get those kids used to their bedtimes now. So, parents, you have your homework.

Clarke says, “The sleeping is something we are going to have to work on this month before we go back to school.”

And grownups, you’ve probably been sleeping in, too. Maybe it’s time for you to get back on a regular sleep schedule so that back-to-school is not such a big shock for you, as well.

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