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Back-to-School Anxiety and Sleep: Tips for a Restful Transition

The start of a new school year is often accompanied by a range of emotions for children, including excitement, anticipation, and, for many, anxiety. One common but often overlooked aspect of back-to-school anxiety is its impact on a child's sleep patterns. My hope is to help parents understand the connection between back-to-school anxiety and sleep, as well as provide valuable tips to ensure their children get the rest they need during this transitional period.
Anxiety's Effect on Sleep:
   Back-to-school anxiety can manifest in various ways, such as worrying about new teachers, academic challenges, or social interactions. These worries can lead to increased stress levels, making it difficult for children to relax and fall asleep. It is important to listen to their concerns. 
Sleep Deprivation's Consequences:
   Insufficient sleep can have a significant impact on a child's overall well-being. It can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and lower academic performance, creating a cycle of increased stress and anxiety.
Tips for Parents:
Recognizing the Signs:
   It's crucial for parents to recognize the signs of back-to-school anxiety. These may include mood swings, trouble sleeping, stomachaches, or even regressive behaviors like bed-wetting. Listen to your child and validate their feelings.
Social Anxiety:
   For some children, the thought of social interactions can be anxiety-inducing. They may worry about making friends, fitting in, or facing bullies. Encourage open conversations about these concerns.
Open Communication:
   Create a safe space for your child to express their feelings. Ask open-ended questions and actively listen to their worries. Sometimes, just talking about their concerns can alleviate anxiety.
Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine:
   Begin implementing a regular bedtime routine at least a week before school starts. Consistency helps signal to the body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Environment:
   Ensure your child's bedroom is conducive to sleep. This includes a comfortable mattress and bedding, as well as a dark and quiet room.
Encourage Mindfulness and Relaxation:
   Teach your child relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.
Plan a Balanced Schedule:
   Help your child manage their time effectively, balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and downtime. A well-structured schedule can reduce stress and create a sense of control.
Back-to-school anxiety is a normal part of the academic year's beginning, and it can impact a child's sleep patterns. By recognizing the connection between anxiety and sleep and implementing these practical tips, parents can help their children manage anxiety and establish healthy sleep habits. Adequate rest is essential for a successful school year, and with the right support, children can confidently navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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