It’s almost that time of the year when parents get ready to buy new school uniforms and stationery; and children complain at bedtime and struggle to wake up in the morning. Here are a few tips to help your little ones get back to their school sleep routine.
1. Work out how much sleep your child needs during the new school year
According to sleep expert Dave Gibson, on average, 3-5 year olds need between 10 to 13 hours of sleep; 6-13 year olds need 9 to 11 hours and teenagers 8 to 10 hours. These are general guidelines and will vary from child to child, so base the total hours on your experience and parental sight, as you know your child best!
Theoretically, as your child gets older, they will expect to go to bed later. Typically, this is reduced by 15 minutes a year.
2. 15 minutes rule – go to bed early and rise early
Start to wean your child off their summertime late nights and onto the new bedtime and wake time towards the start of the new school year. Calculate how far off your child is from their designated school bedtime and adjust it by 15 minutes earlier every day for both their bedtime and wake time.
The idea is to gradually get your child adjusted to their new routine, so it becomes a natural change instead of a shock to their system the night before going back to school.
3. Make sure that this new bedtime works
If your child finds it hard to wake up in the morning and is groggy rather than alert during breakfast, you will need to adjust their bedtime to an earlier time.
4. Re-establish good sleep hygiene
Have a wind-down routine, which starts about an hour before bed. Computer games, homework, and social media should all be stopped an hour before bedtime. This also means no YouTube!
A bath or bedtime story could be used for younger school kids. Packing books, laying out clothes for the next day, brushing teeth (without a bright bathroom light on) and putting on pyjamas, all form part of a good sleep habit. If you do the same thing each night before bed, the routine will start becoming a cue to the brain that it’s almost time for sleep.
5. Keep to the routine even on weekends
Our brains and body clocks like habits – a consistent sleep routine 7 days a week makes it easier for your child to get to sleep in the week.
6. Encourage your child to have a healthy lifestyle
Eliminate all caffeine such as coffee-based drinks, energy drinks, and dark chocolate. Get them to exercise regularly, which will also help them sleep better. Even going to the park or for a walk after school can help.
7. Keep phones out of the bedroom overnight
Smartphone use at bedtime is associated with poor sleep quantity and quality in teenagers. This should be a family rule rather than just for your children, as it makes the boundary easier to enforce and accept. Stop all social media activity one hour before bedtime and leave the phone outside the bedroom. You can use a traditional alarm to wake up or, preferably, a dawn simulator.
8. Get your child interested in sleep and the bedroom
Educate them about why sleep is important in terms of brain development and how consistent routines work. Encourage them to make their bedroom a perfect place to sleep: cool, dark, and quiet. If their mattress or pillow is uncomfortable or old, get a new one and allow older children to have a budget to buy it. Get them to try it in-store so it becomes "their special mattress or pillow".
9. Set a good example
Children are curious and they copy what they see, so it's always good to practice what you preach. Follow a sleep routine, stop the caffeine intake after 12pm, and stop the use of electronic devices one hour before bedtime. You’ll be sleeping like a baby.
10. Make sure their mattress is appropriate for them
Here at Warren Evans we believe that sleep matters and we want all children to have the best of sleeping environments.
There are many children's mattresses in the market place that range a lot in price, but virtually all are lacking in real quality. That's why our "Kids at-cost" mattress range has been implemented to make quality support more affordable. Using high quality springs, cotton covers, and organic wool, we make sure they are the same quality we require in our adult mattresses.
Call us 020 3927 7777 or book a video call for more information on how to improve your child's sleep.
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