School Year Sleep Routines


As we are all headed into a new school year, our kids will naturally experience a shift in their sleep routines. As much as I try to keep my kids on a good sleep schedule year round, over the summer holiday their schedules can shift due to various activities and travel. If you haven’t started working towards a school-year sleep routine, there is still time to start making the shift. As we all head back to school and into our fall routine, here are some great tips and tricks to get into good school-year sleep routines.

Sleep needs

Knowing how much sleep your kid needs is so important to be able to make sure they are well-rested for their school day. Sleep needs can vary significantly from kid to kid, but there are a few guidelines to help you figure out how much sleep your child might need. 

– 3 to 5-year-olds require about 10 to 13 hours of sleep
– 6 to 12-year-olds require about 9 to 12 hours of sleep
– 13 to 18-year-olds require about 8 to 10 hours of sleep

Wake-up time

Part of making sure you get into a good sleep routine determining what time your child needs to be awake in the morning, and allowing for enough time to get ready for their day. Some kids wake up early no matter what, which means that bedtime will be a bit later. Some like to sleep in and will need to wake up to have enough time to start the day. 


Once you have figured out their sleep needs and what time they need to wake up, you can figure out when bedtime should be. Again, if you already have a strong sleep schedule you may not need to worry much about this. If you know they have to wake up an hour earlier than they do now, they bring bedtime an hour earlier. But if you realize you don’t really know when a good bedtime is, use this formula.

Wake-up time – Sleep needs = Bedtime

So, for example, if your child needs to be up by 7 AM and needs 10 hours of sleep, they need to be asleep by 9 PM. 

Making the Shift

If their schedule is going to vary drastically, start by slowly changing bedtime and/or wake-up time. Summertime tends to mean late nights, especially when the sun is still out later into the night. But if bedtime needs to be by 7 PM, start shifting that bedtime from 8 PM. in increments. The first night of the shift will be a 7:45 PM bedtime. Then after a night or two, shift it to 7:30 PM, and so on until you are at the ideal bedtime.

Start of the school year can mean higher sleep needs

School can be exhausting! There is so much that goes on when you start the new school year. Not just getting up early to get ready to head out, but the stress and excitement of seeing friends, meeting new people, learning new routines, and more. All these activities and emotions can make kids tired, even if they aren’t very physically active. The emotional and mental drain of the new school year is real. Some kids might be coming home very cranky, very tired, maybe very hungry or thirsty. It’s important to try to be flexible. Let naps happen if they don’t get home too late in the afternoon. Let them head to bed early so they don’t get overtired. It might take a few weeks into the school year before they really feel they are getting enough sleep and their routine “normalizes”.

Settling in for bed on the tough days

After school starts, it might be difficult for your child to head off to bed. They might be overstimulated or overtired and it could cause sleep troubles. Think about adding steps to their bedtime routine to help them slow down and calm down. Make sure you are turning off the TV/computer/tablet a few hours before bed, avoid late sugary snacks, and avoid roughhousing before bed. Consider adding in some relaxing yoga, meditation, or sleep stories to wind down. The new school year can cause a range of emotions for our kids, even simply talking with them about their day, the good and bad parts, can help clear their mind for some restful sleep. 

If you already have a great schedule that allows for enough sleep and gets your little one up with enough time to get ready for the day, that’s awesome! If not, the key takeaways here are to start shifting the sleep schedule before school starts, make sure they are getting enough sleep before school, and be flexible on days they need a little extra sleep. 


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