As students head back to the classroom, there’s one more subject kids need to ace: sleep. Great sleep helps kids face the unique challenges this school year brings. For example, a good night’s sleep supports healthy levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, supporting a calm and positive outlook, and sleeping well after a day of learning also helps the consolidation of memories. Sleep is an integral part of children’s immune response, too—another timely, top-of-mind concern this year. To unlock a successful and healthy school year, follow these three simple steps to help your kids become smart sleepers.

The first step to smart sleep is making sure your kids are getting enough sleep quantity. School-aged children need a minimum of 9-10 hours of sleep. Younger elementary school children can sometimes require as much as 12 hours. Unfortunately, school days start too early for most children’s natural sleep-wake rhythms. To support natural melatonin production earlier in the evening, dim the lights and turn off all screens an hour before bedtime. You can also consider adding a low dosage, drug-free melatonin supplement 20-30 minutes before bedtime to help kids advance their sleep-wake rhythms. But choose a brand wisely. Melatonin supplements can be a great way to regulate a healthy circadian rhythm, but look to brands whose formulas are clinically tested and have USP Verified products. 

The second step to smart sleep is improving sleep quality. Sleep quality is vital to your children’s wellbeing because it ensures they get enough deep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep—the two most important types. Children need far more physically restorative deep sleep than adults because their brains are still developing. Sufficient REM sleep is vital as well because it supports children’s emotional health. High quality sleep also helps the body fight infections, and research has linked good sleep to robust immune responses to vaccines. To help a restless child stay happy and healthy throughout the school year, I often advise parents to look to Natrol’s line of kids melatonin products because, as noted earlier, it is a trusted and quality brand whose formulas are clinically tested. The Natrol Kids Sleep+ Immune Health gummies have an advanced sleep formulation that combines melatonin with Vitamins C & D, elderberry, and zinc for added immune health support. 

The third step is all about sleep consistency. Any parent knows that traveling wreaks havoc on children’s mood and energy levels. Guess what? Most families are giving their kids social jet lag every week without ever leaving the home—because there’s one bedtime for school nights and another for weekends. Consistency is key when it comes to smart sleep. That’s true for both parents and kids, so make sure everyone in the family goes to bed and wakes up around the same time seven days a week.

When life is filled with unpredictability, focus on the things you can control. Sleeping smart tonight is a great place to start.