Switching from summertime to school time doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Understanding the amount of sleep your child needs, and putting in place good bedtime habits, means waking up for school each day should be a cinch. Sleep expert from mattress specialist Dormeo, Phil Lawlor, explains how to get your kids’ sleeping schedule back on track for the new school year.
With holidays, sleepovers, and outdoor activities, there’s a good chance your children’s regular schedule went out the window during the long summer break. Sleep is important for adults, but it’s even more important for kids. As they are growing and developing, your children require more sleep than you do, and not getting enough can have a serious impact on their school performance and health. A lack of sleep has been linked problematic behaviour, impaired learning, and negative mood, as well as an increase in issues later on in life, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease* Not only that, but it’ll also lead to a very cranky child.
On the positive side of things, sleep helps to promote your child’s growth — in fact, growth hormones are primarily released at night. Not only that, but a good night’s sleep helps to improve their learning, memory, and attention in class, putting them in the best position to do well at school. Sleep is a key component in learning, both in children and adults, so help them develop their knowledge and skills further by setting up a proper bedtime routine.
What time should your kids be in bed?
To help set up your routine, you first need to think about the age of your children and how much sleep they will need. Of course, every child is different, and two children of the same age might require different amounts of sleep. With that in mind, work out exactly how much sleep your child needs each day.
The sleeping guidelines for each age group are:
😴Ages 4–12 months: 12 –16 hours
😴Ages 1–2 years: 11 –14 hours
😴Ages 3–5 years: 10 –13 hours
😴Ages 6–12 years: 9 –12 hours
😴 Ages 13–18 years: 8–10 hours
Creating Good Bedtime Habits
Getting the kids to maximise their sleep quality is just as important as ensuring they’re in bed on time. To help them get to sleep and stay asleep each night, there are some things you can do:
- Consistency is key: Getting into a consistent sleep schedule has huge benefits for both adults and children. The key is to stick to the routine, even on weekends, as this will help to regulate your child’s body clock and aid them in waking up.
- Create a wind down routine: By creating a pre-bed wind down routine, you can help signal to their body that it’s time to fall asleep. One way to do this is to get them to take a bath an hour or so before bed, or encourage them to read a book or read them a bedtime story.
- Limit screen time: Whether it’s the TV or the mobile phone, electronic device with screens will keep their brains active and prevent them from winding down. Blue light from these screens can actually trick out bodies into thinking it’s daytime, making it harder to fall asleep. To prevent this, you should remove any of these devices from them two hours before their bedtime.
- Ensure a calm sleep environment: Sleeping environment plays a big role in sleep quality. That means having a dark and quiet room, a comfortable bed, and a comfortable temperature between 16-18°C. Soft, calming music can also help some kids get to sleep.
- Avoid certain food and drink: If you’re giving your kids caffeinated fizzy drinks, make sure to avoid doing so within six hours of bedtime. Feeding them large portions of food, or particularly spicy foods, can lead to indigestion and make it harder for them to fall asleep. Foods with high sugar content are also a big no-no before trying to get them off to the Land of Nod.
- Increase exercise: If you’re doing all the above and your kids are still finding it hard to get to sleep, try tiring them out with some increased physical activity. Bear in mind that exercise can make us more awake, especially in the short term, so don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
Make the early morning starts as painless as possible. Practising good sleep habits is the best way to ensure your kids will feel refreshed and raring to go – each and every day.