10 WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN SETTLE BACK IN TO THEIR USUAL SLEEP ROUTINE
The back to school countdown has well and truly begun. Whilst new uniforms and lunch boxes will definitely be on the ‘to do’ list, one thing parents may want to consider is adjusting children’s sleep back in to their usual routine following the summer of later nights and lazier mornings.
Dave Gibson, sleep expert at London bed makers Warren Evans, shares his sleep adjustment tips to help parents avoid the bedtime battle as the new term begins.
“It’s likely that you are facing two issues when it comes to settling children back in to their usual sleep pattern for school. The first is that the brighter summer nights naturally encourage us to go to bed later (as we would have done prehistorically). The second is that you have probably let the normal bedtime curfew relax in the summer holidays and thus they are getting to bed later, and probably getting up later too.
Getting children back into their normal sleep cycle is vital in terms of making sure they get enough sleep, Recommendations from the National Bed Foundation in USA suggests that children from 5-11 years of age need 10-11 hours and from 11-17 need between 8 ∏ and 9 π hours. However, all kids are different and typically you know your child is getting enough sleep when it’s easy for them to wake up refreshed in the morning.
It’s been shown that children with chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to have difficulties learning, paying attention, and are even more likely to be overweight.
The following tips will help you get your child back into the correct routine and hopefully keep them sleeping well and for the correct amount of time.
1) Adjust bedtime by 15 minutes each day until you reach the ideal time. Once in this pattern it’s important to keep to the same time even at weekends.
2) Make it easier for them to ease into night-time, reduce light towards the end of the day, tilting blinds and keep off any bright overhead lights.
3) Develop a routine of 30 to 45 minutes of calm activities before bed, which can be repeated in the same order such as a bath or reading a story to cue your child’s mind that it is bedtime. One study in America showed that reading as part of a sleep routine got children to sleep faster and they had a better quality of sleep once asleep.
4) Help them to switch off by limiting the amount of technology in the evening. Don’t let them use TV’s, mobiles, laptops and tablets within an hour of bed as our eyes are sensitive to the ‘blue-light’ they produce which affects our body clock and keeps us awake.
5) Create the right environment in the bedroom by having it set up for good sleep, which is dark, quiet, and cool. Lower body temperatures indicate to the body that it is night-time (i.e. the sun has gone) however have extra blankets on hand in case they get cold in the night.
6) Don’t allow mobile phones in the bedroom. One study of children between 13 and 16 found that 62% of them used their mobile phones in bed, and that even those who used phones in bed less than once a week doubled their chance that they would feel tired the next day.
7) Get your kids to exercise more in the day, as it reduces the time it takes to get to sleep and increases the total time we sleep, although make sure it’s finished about 2 hours before bed, to allow time to settle down.
8) Avoid heavy meals before bedtime and avoid caffeine; both will keep your child awake. If your child is allowed caffeinated drinks they should be avoided within six hours of bed.
9) As soon as your child awakes try to encourage them to get out of bed and into bright light or opening the curtains as soon as possible. This quickly adjusts their melatonin levels and will make it far easier for them to get to sleep in the evening at the right time.
10) Finally, set an example by having your own sleep schedule that you stick to, and don’t try to catch up on sleep at the weekends as it is important that you all maintain your schedules throughout the week.
Read more sleep advice and from Dave on www.warrenevans.com/blog