With the new school year well underway, many families are getting back into a steady routine – no more late nights and leisurely mornings. One of the best ways to help children to settle as they to return to school or nursery settle is to encourage regular sleeping patterns.
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep consultant and Silentnight’s expert with over 20 years’ experience, says that the school holidays can have a huge effect on both parents’ and children’s body clocks, so sticking to a solid routine can help keep kids going from dawn till dusk.
She says: “Routine is key to children waking up refreshed and feeling ready for bed at a suitable time. The sooner you begin to reintroduce a sleeping rhythm, after several weeks of irregularity, the sooner all the family can fall back into a healthy sleeping pattern.
Here Dr Nerina shares her top sleep tips for introducing children into a healthy school-time sleep schedule:
- Introduce technology-free evenings
Research has demonstrated that having constant streams of light enter our eyes in the period before we go to sleep actually tells our brains to stay awake. This form of disruptive ‘blue light’ can come from TVs, tablets, computers, and mobile phones. Rule out blue light by cutting out technological devises an hour or so before bedtime and keep technology out of the bedroom.
- Reintroduce earlier bedtimes
If your family is still in the habit of late holiday evenings, gradually shift bedtimes a little earlier over several days to allow children to adjust. An ideal bedtime for pre-teens would be no later than 8.30pm, and younger children will require additional sleep.
- Include a relaxing pre-sleep routine
The hours before bedtime can make a big difference to how quickly children will fall asleep. Make the pre-sleep hours as calming as possible with a milky drink, story time or a lavender-scented bath to help children wind down.
School or nursery worries can leave children feeling anxious and unable to sleep. Before bedtime, talk to your child about their day and anything else that may be on their mind. Encourage basic yoga to distress or simple meditation which involves repeating calming word and steady breathing techniques, including breathing deeply from the stomach.
- Create a suitable bedroom environment
For a good night’s rest, bedrooms should be sleep-friendly and relaxing. Freshly laundered bedding and tidy spaces can make a room calm and relaxing. Again, keeping bedrooms technology free bedrooms is a must!
- Encourage exercise
It is scientifically proven that exercise is a great sleep-aid. Regular exercise is a really effective way of reducing the body’s stress hormones (such as adrenaline), therefore helping you to get sleep better. Light exercise, like a short walk after your evening meal can work wonders for your child’s sleep.
- Create good nutritional habits
A good balance of the hormones melatonin and serotonin and in our systems is important for a good night’s sleep. Balanced school lunches and evening meals can promote a healthy hormone balance. High levels of serotonin can be found in foods such as chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk.
Do you have any other tips for a healthy school-time sleep schedule? Please share them in the box below.