The Importance of Sleep:

How to Set a Bedtime Routine for School

In this article, we'll outline the importance of sleep for children and reveal our top tips for setting a bedtime routine for school.

We understand that you’re the expert on your own child or children and the below is not intended as prescriptive advice. If you have concerns about your child’s sleep, please consult a medical or trusted sleep professional.

How Much Sleep Do Children Need?

Sleep is critical for adults and children. While guidelines suggest that most adults (18-64 years old) typically require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, children can need much more. This following varies between individuals but on average, children need the following amount of sleep, in accordance with their age:

  • 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
  • 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
  • 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours

3 Reasons Why Sleep is Important for Children

  1. Helps Physical Growth

Sleep is important for everyone, at every age, but it's especially important for growing children because this is when they secrete large amounts of growth hormones.

  1. Improves the Ability to Focus

You've likely experienced this for yourself on a few occasions, where a bad night's sleep seems to throw you off for the entire day. The same applies to children, with a lack of sleep affecting their ability to think clearly during school.

  1. Helps to Regulate Emotions

Emotional regulation can already be particularly challenging for teens. This refers to the ability to manage and respond to emotions in appropriate and adaptive ways. Poor sleep can negatively affect this, potentially resulting in impulsive behaviour, mood swings, or sudden outbursts of anger.

5 Tips for Setting a Bedtime Routine for School

It can make things easier for everyone involved if you start your back-to-school bedtime routine before school starts again. Consider incorporating these tips as you make the gradual transition as the holidays come to a close.

  1. Consider Limiting Screen Time Before Snooze

Every parent's rule around screentime will differ. But too much screentime before bed has been associated with a risk of experiencing insomnia*. Instead, you may want to think about trying some calming activities such as reading an hour or so before it's time to sleep.

  1. Avoid Late Evening Physical Activity

The longer evenings are a favourite part of this season for many, and this isn't to say you shouldn't make the most of this time! In fact, nurturing a love for physical activity in children has several benefits. However, you might want to consider the timing of this. Ideally, experts recommend avoiding vigorous physical activity for up to two hours before bed.

  1. Pack the Night Before

Ensuring that your child's bag is packed and uniform at the ready, can help contribute towards a relaxed, night's sleep by adding structure to their evening routine and helping to promote a calm mind. And it means there's less to think about during the morning rush from school starts!

  1. Dark, Quiet, Cool

The three key words when it comes to slumber success! To support your child in getting a restful night's sleep as they settle back into a bedtime routine, it can be helpful to ensure their room is dark, quiet, and cool. If the weather is particularly warm, you might find it handy to place a frozen water bottle in front of a fan. Putting this in your child's room an hour or so before bedtime can help keep it cool by the time it's time to get to sleep.

  1. Consistency is Key!

If your child has been out of their usual routine for the past few weeks, it's unlikely they'll transition back to how they previously were immediately. And a few nights of poor sleep won't result in the risks associated with long-term sleep deprivation. Being patient with your child as they navigate the days or weeks leading up to their return to school can be helpful during this time, and by remaining consistent and recognising that this might not be an overnight success, we hope your child can step back into school feeling ready to take on another year!

*0803 Insomnia Symptoms And Sleep Duration Mediate The Association Between Adolescent Screen Time And Depressive Symptoms | SLEEP | Oxford Academic (