Back to school – what it means for your child’s sleep
The summer holidays are rapidly coming to an end and we start to think about getting back to school. This could signal a few tears of sadness for some parents or for others a sigh of relief. But however we feel the start of the new term is almost upon us and you need to consider what being back at school means for your child’s sleep. How do you avoid those morning meltdowns and hideous bedtimes come September?
We tell you how…….
Back to school preparations – don’t leave it ‘til the last minute:
Two or three weeks before the new term date and your little ones’ go back to school, start to put your child to bed earlier by 15 minutes.
- Repeat this new time for 2 to 3 days
- At the same time wake them 15 minutes earlier every 2 to 3 days
- Repeat this pattern until you reach the time that is right for their child’s morning start time.
- Children should be falling asleep within 15 minutes – if it’s taking much longer just slow down the changes and move bedtime 15 minutes earlier weekly rather than every 3 days.
Help your child to feel sleepy:
An hour before bed we recommend:
- Start thinking about your child’s bed time 1 hour before you want them to be asleep. In that time children should avoid stimulating activities; in summer children are often playing outside until late as we have light evenings, so they need to come in and wind down.
- ALL screens should be off 1 hour before sleep; this includes phones, tablets and computers as blue light can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Lastly, in the hour before sleep don’t let your child have any caffeine or sugary food and drinks.
Twenty to thirty minutes before bed we recommend:
- Have a quiet and calm bedtime routine focused around the bedroom and bathroom area.
- Carry out the same series of steps every night so your child knows that sleep is coming. They will start to prepare for it as soon as you start the steps.
- The steps should include a warm relaxing bath lasting about 10 minutes; a pre-bed bath should not be a play time.
- Go straight from the bathroom into the bedroom – do not go back into the living area.
- Pre dim the lights in the bedroom – this will help with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Have 1 or 2 stories.
- Say good night and leave the bedroom; your child should be asleep about 15 minutes later.
Back to school preparations – the morning is just as important:
Being back at school means an early morning start again form many families. Morning is when we reset our body clock so it’s very important children are woken at the same time each day. A big dose of light will help to get your child up and running, so open the curtains straightaway. Light suppresses melatonin – the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.