Summer will soon be over and before you know it, it’s time for early alarm clocks and to get the children onto that school bus. After weeks of fun, kids may have difficulty making the back-to-school transition especially with their sleep schedule. It doesn’t happen overnight and you can expect them to complain. But the earlier you get them into the routine of going to bed earlier, the better they’ll be ready for school. Here are some ways to help you get the kids back on track on healthy sleeping habits.
- Allow two weeks or more before the first day of school for change. Objective is to gradually get your child to fall asleep earlier so that waking up earlier in the morning comes more naturally. You can choose a start date and slowly adjust their sleeping schedule by increments. For example, if your child is used to staying up until 10 PM during the summer and needs to get back to 8 PM, you’d want to have him go to bed an hour earlier every night for a few days. Then try inching bedtime for another half an hour earlier for a few more days until they’re finally going to bed at the same as the regular school schedule.
- Limit screen time. Discourage television, video game and other electronic distractions at least half an hour before bedtime. Electronic amusements can stimulate the brain which makes sleeping difficult. Also, the glow from the screen, or the blue light can affect production of melatonin or the so-called “sleep hormone”.
- Practice “quiet time”. Before bedtime, have a relaxing routine to allow your child to unwind, which can include a bath, or a bed-time story. Also, try to have your child wind down his evening activities so that there’s ample time for him to fall asleep.
- Get back to healthy eating. Summer likely means sugary snacks, which isn’t very conducive to sleep. Cut back on the sugar, big meals, caffeine and sodas that may be stealing their sleep. Take a good look at what they’re eating and make changes in their diet. For instance, avoid any caffeinated drinks six hours before bedtime as this makes sleeping difficult. You can also start integrating healthier items into their snacks and meals.
- Redo their room. Take a look at your child’s bedroom and see if it promotes a good night sleep. Is it calm and peaceful? Is it too warm or too cold? How you design their sleeping environment plays a big part in sleep hygiene. Your child’s room should also be clean and free of clutter. Experts agree that mess and disorganization not only distracts your kid (“I wasn’t able to put away my toys!”) but also triggers a more excitatory sensory input, slowing their transition to sleep.
- Dark is best. Create a sleeping environment for your child that is dark and peaceful. The absence of light sends a critical signal to the body that it is time to rest. Most children might want to have some light in their bedroom at night because of fears of the dark or to make their way more comfortable to the bathroom, then it’s best to use a nightlight with a red bulb. Red light that has been shown less disruptive to sleep than others.
- Set a good example and be consistent. When it comes to your kids, role-modeling is everything. Be the role model and establish good sleeping habits. Reinforce it with all members of the family and once you start changing your bedtime routine, don’t skip days. Stick with it until your kids are used to the change.