NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
With back-to-school on the horizon, it’s a good idea to get kids back on a good schedule, and that means it’s time to restablish a bedtime routine. During summer vacation, it is easy for your children to get off track.
You may allow your children to stay awake longer because there is more sunlight, making it easier to play outside, or perhaps, you allow a child to stay up later to watch television. If you travel during the summer, your child may have a disrupted sleep schedule caused by timezone changes. Altered sleeping schedules also changes the body’s natural circadian rhythms, leading to children who want to sleep later in the morning.
However, as school time approaches, you must get your children back to a regular bedtime schedule so that waking your children isn’t difficult. It is essential for children to remain alert in the early morning hours at school.
How Much Sleep?
First, the parent should determine how much sleep each child requires for optimal mental and physical performance. This is usually determined by a child’s age, and there are experts who have determined how much sleep is required for various age ranges, including:
- Preschoolers – ages 3 to 5 need 11 to 13 hours of sleep
- Elementary school – ages 5 to 10 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep
- Middle school – ages 10 to 14 need 9 to 10 hours of sleep
- High school – ages 14 to 18 need 8 to 9 hours of sleep
Determine what time your child must wake up on school days, factoring in enough time for dressing, eating breakfast and getting to the bus stop. This will help you figure out the proper bedtime for your child based on the amount of recommended sleep. You should plan on waking up younger children, but you can provide an alarm clock for an older child.
Signs of Lack of Sleep
Each one of your children may have different sleeping time requirements, but without enough rest, your children will tend to display the same types of symptoms that include:
- Falling asleep on the bus or at a school desk
- Poor attention span
- Cognitive difficulties
- Physical problems
- More illnesses
Tips for a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
If your children have started to sleep until noon over the summer, then you shouldn’t wait until the day before school begins to time shift your children back to the proper sleeping time. Begin far in advance so that your children have adjusted circadian rhythms that make it easier to go to sleep. There are many things that you can do to make bedtime an easier process for children of all ages. Use these tips to make the sleeping process easier for your children.
Tip 1: Having a Comfortable Bed
When your teenager is still sleeping on the same mattress that was purchased 10 years ago, it may not provide enough support. Summer is a great time to order a new box spring and mattress for a growing child. You may need to consider a larger bed for a teenager who is taller so that your child has a comfortable bed to sleep in.
Tip 2: Creating a Soothing Environment
To help your children sleep better at night, create a soothing environment, especially in the bedroom. A bedroom should remain quiet at night to help a child sleep without any interruptions. Experiment to see what helps your son or daughter sleep throughout the night. It might be a soothing sound machine that lulls the child to sleep and keeps them asleep all night long.
Tip 3: Light Reduction in the Bedroom
A child should have a dark bedroom to maintain the appropriate circadian rhythms. Make sure that the lights are off in the bedroom. Consider installing room-darkening window blinds or draperies. Do not leave lights turned on in a child’s bedroom at night.
Tip 4: No Distractions in a Bedroom
It isn’t a good idea to keep a television in a child’s bedroom, and experts also believe that it is better to have computers in a different room as well. The light from these devices can disrupt the brain’s circadian rhythms, but, in addition, having a bedroom that is only designed for sleeping helps to make bedtime easier.
Tip 5: Eliminate Clutter in a Bedroom
Sleeping in a cluttered space is difficult, so you should eliminate the junk that is in a child’s bedroom. Summer is a great time to clean a bedroom completely with mopping, vacuuming, and dusting along with organizing books, clothing, and toys.
Tip 6: New Bedding for a Child
If your child resists going to bed, then make it a special place by allowing a daughter or son to choose bedding such as bedspreads or sheets. Your child may feel more excited about going to bed when the bedding has an image of a favorite cartoon character or when it is in a favorite color.
Tip 7: Changes in Diet
Adjusting your child’s diet can make bedtime an easier process. Your child should eat three healthy meals each day, and it is important to avoid certain types of foods during the evening. Don’t give your child any caffeinated beverages or spicy foods that can make it more difficult for a child to sleep at night.
Tip 8: Daily Exercise
If you want to encourage restful sleep at night, then you must make sure that your child is active during the daytime. Enroll your child in sport activities that will burn excess energy, or alternatively, have exercise equipment available, including bicycles or jump ropes. If your child exercises at least three times a week for 45 minutes, then it is easier for a child to sleep at night.
Tip 9: Take Away the Smartphone
At night, you should take away your child’s smartphone. This will keep your child from using the item at night without your knowledge. Remember that a child might stay awake to use the texting feature or play games with the smartphone.
Tip 10: No Napping
Children who attend school should avoid napping, which that can make it difficult to sleep at night. If you have a daughter or son who is going to begin preschool, then you must make sure that the child sleeps more at night to compensate for the lack of naps.
Tip 11: Exposure to Sunlight
Exposure to sunlight can help you to adjust your child’s circadian rhythms. By spending time outside during the day, your child’s body manufactures more vitamin D that helps to regulate sleeping patterns.
Tip 12: Avoid Stress
If your child experiences any anxiety right before bedtime, then it is unlikely that your son or daughter will go to sleep quickly. Some children will go to sleep, but may have sleep disruptions that make it impossible to sleep throughout the night. Teach your child how to overcome anxiety with meditation or by listening to soothing music.
Tip 13: Proper Temperature in a Bedroom
Keeping a child’s bedroom at the proper temperature at night will make bedtime easier. During the late summer or early autumn when school begins, you should continue to use an air conditioner or circulating fans to keep the bedrooms in a home cool.
Tip 14: No Beverages before Bedtime
Avoid giving your child beverages before bedtime, especially fruit juices or soft drinks. While a child may fall asleep quickly after drinking something, the child will likely wake up within an hour to go to the bathroom, and your son or daughter may find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Forcing the issue and making your child adhere to a bedtime routine night after night may seem like a daunting power struggle that you’d like to avoid. After all, you’re tired, too. Just remember that a good night’s sleep really is in your child’s best interest.