It’s a pleasure to host Dave Gibson’s post on helping kids return to their usual sleep routine. My own children have had lots of late nights over Christmas but now they’re back at school, I’ll be implementing Dave’s tips.
Over to Dave:
With the start of the school term approaching, hundreds of us will have a health and general well-being related New Year’s resolution in mind. Aside with exercise and healthy food, having a good night’s sleep is now seen as one of the most important factors for children’s health. To help make things more manageable and to set your child up with a good sleep routine for 2018 here are some simple tips…
1) Establish a good sleep routine
Start a ‘wind-down’ routine about an hour before bedtime. This means all homework, tablets, computer games etc. should all be stopped an hour before bed. Giving the kids a bath, ensuring they brush their teeth, without a bright bathroom light, and a bedtime story is an example of a ‘wind-down’ routine for younger school children. Packing books, laying out school uniform for the next day, all form part of a good sleep habit. It’s important you mirror the same activities every night at bedtime as this routine will start becoming a cue to the child’s brain that it’s almost time to go to bed.
2) Get your evening back
I have recently come across a new App called , which I have begun recommending as part of a good sleep routine for children aged around 4 years old plus. This App cleverly combines sleep stories with relaxing music and soundscapes which helps encourage your child to drift off to sleep quickly and calmly. It cunningly does this through the pace of the stories with the audio slowing down gradually in rhythm to naturally induce sleep. Using Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories (there are lots to download on the app) also solves the issue of parents waiting in, or outside the bedroom and gives you some precious ‘me’ time back. Once your child is comfy and tucked up in bed, you simply switch off the lights, hit the play button, give your child their goodnight kiss and quietly leave the room.
Young children learn by copying what they see and hear around them. I always recommend that if you want your child to adopt good habits you need to have them too. If you also have a technology deadline before bedtime it sets a good example for your children. As the blue light from screens mimics the light that wakes you up in the morning, all technology should be stopped at least 60-minutes before bed to enable your brain to prepare for bedtime. Night-time modes and screen dimmers should ideally be used throughout the evening.
4) Keep the same routine 7 days a week
As our brains and body clock like a consistent sleep routine, you should ideally maintain this pattern 7 days a week, including the weekend. By getting up at the same time on Saturday and Sunday you will set an example and your child will find it easier to get to sleep on school nights enabling them to wake up feeling refreshed.
5) Establish good habits for all the family
Good habits could also extend to exercising together, as this helps both adults and children to sleep better. Encouraging children to exercise more in the day will reduce the time it takes for them to get to sleep and will increase the total time they sleep. It’s important that all exercise is finished around two hours before bed, to give children time to wind down. Caffeinated drinks is an another habit that is common with families. Caffeine should always be stopped at lunchtime which includes energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, tea, coffee and dark chocolate. This also applies for sugary foods and drinks too. If the whole family observe these rules the whole family will sleep better.