How To Create A Back To School Sleep Schedule

Kids Going Back To School

I can’t believe it’s already time to talk about how to create a back to school sleep schedule!.

The week has flown by, but it was a full and productive week and I felt like I was able to accomplish a lot. My favorite activity this past week was being on Spectrum 1 here in California, talking about why we need later school start times for our middle and high school kids. 

Dr. Michael Brues The Sleep Doctor Discusses Later School Times

How to Get Your Kids Back on Their School-Year Sleep Schedule 

All around the country, kids are headed back to school. It’s time for them to get into a regular sleep schedule again. Proper sleep helps them excel at their studies, and it also keeps them from being grumpy, sluggish and protects them against illness during those first few weeks. Here are a few tips for preparing your children for their school schedule. 

  • Two weeks before school starts, begin moving up their wake-up time by fifteen minutes every three days until the Friday before school starts. That way, they are getting up at the time they need to.
  • Give them a 60 minute electronic device curfew before bedtime, but if they resist and you can’t get that one done, try using blue-light blocking glasses.

For more ideas, I wrote a list of comprehensive tips to help your kids get the sleep they need before they head back to the classroom.

Each week, I like to share some of the questions people reach out and ask me. This week I’ve chosen a couple of topics and questions that have been popping up a lot more recently. Many of you will likely benefit from the answers.

Question #1: Does my attitude affect how I sleep?
They say that with a good attitude nothing is impossible, and that includes getting a good night’s sleep. A recent study out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign looked at the sleep habits and outlook of over three thousand Americans across different regions for five years. The participants who maintained a positive attitude were seventy-eight percent more likely to report higher sleep quality and seventy-four percent more likely to report fewer sleep problems like insomnia. 

This isn’t the first study to find a link between positive attitude and quality of sleep. Other studies have found that a positive mindset is correlated to a reduced likelihood of sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Of course, sleep isn’t the only aspect of life improved by a positive mental state. There is a strong relationship between positivity and improved health. Those benefits include: 

  • Stress Reduction
  • Longer Lifespan 
  • Stronger Immune System
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Overall Wellness 

If poor sleep is affecting your mood, we can tackle this issue like we tackle most general sleep problems:

  • Know your bedtime
  • No caffeine after 2 p.m.
  • No exercise 2-4 hours before you sleep, The amount of time it takes for your body to cool determines how soon before bed to exercise. Experiment a little to find the right number of hours for you.
  • No alcohol three hours prior to lights out
  • Get fifteen minutes of sun on your face in the morning 

Practicing gratitude before you go to bed is particularly effective. Not only does this trick help you improve your outlook, but it also may help you sleep. A study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that participants who wrote in a gratitude journal for fifteen minutes every evening slept better and reported less worry. 

Another method for improving your mood is to smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Research shows that even forcing a smile seems to reduce blood pressure and stress levels. 

There are so many things that a person can do to improve their attitude and their life. You can exercise, change your diet, cut out alcohol and reduce sugar intake. All of these things help improve sleep quality, too. 

Question #2 – I have seasonal allergies that make it hard to sleep and over the counter medications don’t work. What can I do?
I have pretty bad seasonal allergies. I tend to sniffle and sneeze a lot.  I feel like it’s affecting my sleep. What can I do besides take over-the-counter medications that don’t work very well for me? 

It’s not just you. Allergies can have a potent and negative impact on your sleep.  Allergic rhinitis aka hay fever is the biggest offender, affecting about eight percent of the population. If you have a runny nose, your nasal passage is inflamed which means you’re not only likely to lose sleep from the discomfort, but you’re also more likely to snore which can be bad for your health and marriage. People with sleep apnea are at greater risk of health problems if they’re also afflicted with allergies. 

The most common non-food allergies are mold, dust mites, dander, and pollen. There are things that you can do around your house to diminish the first three offenders. However, if pollen is giving you pause, you can’t just go outside and tell the trees and flowers to knock it off. If allergies are having an adverse effect on you and your sleep, then you should get tested for them. You might think that you’re suffering from hay fever when you’re really allergic to mold. If you know your trigger, you might be able to remedy it and alleviate the symptoms that are making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. 

If you’re a pet lover like I am, you know that there are benefits and drawbacks to sleeping with pets on the bed or in your room. Sometimes a slight pet dander allergy isn’t noticed during times of the year when seasonal allergies aren’t also affecting you, so if you have a slight pet dander allergy, it might be time for the dog to sleep elsewhere.

Make sure to replace your pillows a least every 18 months and memory foam pillows every three years. Here is my favorite pillow and the one I sleep on. If you are a side sleeper the curve is a game changer! Also, wash your sheets regularly, ideally at least once a week. 

Take a warm bath or shower before you go to bed. Not only can the warm water help you sleep, but it cleans all the dust, dander and pollen from your hair and body so you don’t bring it into bed with you. Furthermore, always wear clean clothes to bed. If you wear a shirt you wore during the day to sleep in, you’re bringing to bed all the allergens the shirt has been exposed to.

If you have it in your budget, you can also install air purifiers, but an even simpler and less expensive trick is to just make sure the air conditioner filters have been changed recently. 

Here’s an article I was included in this week that I think you’ll enjoy.

How To Get Some Solid Sleep On A Plane – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Shopping For A Mattress Straight From Bed – The Sunday Edit

Sweet Dreams,
Dr. Micheal Breus