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Nursery, Preschool & Starting School- And the Impacts on Sleep!

As our little one's grow - so do their experiences in the world. And they get to the big milestones of starting nursery, preschool and then primary school! Whilst they may be really excited, their social dynamics are changing and the way they interact with others and how others interact with them. They are also away from home in the day which brings a whole mix of emotions - which of course can impact their sleep.

Just like adults can - they start to process thoughts around their day before bedtime. This can bring a mix of emotions in terms of revisiting how someone may have spoken to them that day, or something big that happened at preschool. And this can be the start of "pre-school" anxieties for many kids.

Not only that - they are absolutely knackered from all the engaging fun they've had! So they may be overtired by the time bedtime even begins, and so the cortisol levels increase - so does their awareness and inability to shut off or bedtime battles start.

And their first day - can be a biggy! They realise they are without you, maybe they don't know anyone in the class and their emotions are at peak. Then they go, have a great day and keep themselves together through it all - to come home and the emotions explode once they are in their safe place. This can also come from tiredness!

Preschool teacher reading to 5 children in class
Preschool Class

Sleep is essential for our toddlers and preschoolers - most clocking between 11-13 hours sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep if vital for their memory consolidation, emotional regulation, behaviour and their mental/physical health. Without it, they'll be more irrational, less able to compute their new emotions and we want to make sure they are getting all the sleep they need!

Some top tips to help manage this transition -

  1. If little one still naps at home or has quiet time, ask the nursery/preschool to help you accommodate the same.

  2. Earlier bedtimes on nursery days - avoid overtiredness and bedtime battles/night awakenings. Don't be afraid to move from your scheduled time - they'll need that top up!

  3. Have that connection time ahead of bedtime - ask about their day, anything they want to talk about before the routine begins.

  4. Embed concepts to help pre-school anxieties. "The Worry Monster" is something I love - the concept being around writing down their worries and feelings, popping it in the monster teddy (remove the paper by morning) so they they feel they've got their feelings and worries out and they have been dealt with - and now gone! you can adapt this to your little one as needed.

  5. Sometimes kids starting school struggle to turn off their busy minds - low level podcasts during bedtime can work really well. My favourite is "Your Floating Bed" on Spotify - positive affirmations/meditations in line with great kids stories.

  6. Try to keep their wake times consistent where you can - even on non-nursery days. Adjust the bedtime where you need to in terms of earlier/later but try to keep similar rhythms for ease of transition.

  7. Never underestimate the power of quiet time once they get home - avoiding that 5pm crash!

If you are looking for more support in your toddler/preschoolers sleep then the Toddler Sleep Course is perfect for you. We work through step by step methods to help confidence build and promote peaceful bedtimes and independent sleep.

As always - you can contact me anytime with questions! Or pop them in the Community Group!


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