Back to school sleep routine: how to get your kids ready for term time
You’ve replaced the uniform, bought all the stationary, and even got them a new rucksack, but have you thought about how you’re going to get your kids into a normal sleep pattern for going back to school?
The summer holidays can mean late nights and even later mornings for many of our kids; it’s natural that we want to treat them while they’re off school. Yet this can make getting them up for the first morning of school very difficult.
High-quality sleep is crucial for their education, with studies showing that even a small sleep deficit can cause lower grades in school. Here, TEMPUR® explores some of the ways you can ensure your kid gets the sleep they need for a great start back at school.
How much sleep do kids need?
The right amount of sleep changes with the age of your child. According to the NHS, a growing pre-school child aged between 3 and 5 is recommended to get between 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night.
However, this drops down from 9 to 11 hours for school children aged 6 to 11, and even lower for teens where the recommended amount of sleep is only 8 to 10 hours. This means you’ll need to get your preteens to bed a bit earlier to ensure they perform their best at school.
You also need to be aware that puberty changes our natural body clocks. Older teens will therefore often find it difficult to sleep until later, although you should still try to ensure they are asleep by 11pm.
If your kids are sleeping later in the summer than during term time, start changing their bedtime gradually. Making their bedtime earlier slowly, over a period of 10 days before they go back to school, will help to ease them into their new bedtime.
Make sure that your child’s bedroom is conducive to a good night’s sleep. A cool room temperature will help them to drift off, as this signals to our brains that it’s time for bed.
It’s also crucial that they’re comfy. If they don’t enjoy the lower temperature, keep them snuggly with some nice pyjamas and a good quilt. Also ensure they have a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillows, which will allow them to relax and drift away into a contented sleep.
Another thing to consider is making the house darker an hour before bed – drawing curtains and dimming the lights, for example – to create a relaxing bedtime mood.
Additionally, consider spraying some lavender water onto their pillows. The smell has been shown to help promote sleep.
It’s vital that your child is not stressed when they get into bed – no good night’s sleep begins this way. Unfortunately, returning to school can be a worrying time for many kids. Talk to your children about their anxieties and let them know you are there to support and help them.
Activities that can alleviate stress include yoga and meditation. Doing these throughout the day will help your children to get to sleep easier the night before they go back to school.
As a part of their bedtime routine, do not allow your children to use any electrical devices for an hour before bed. The blue light from the screens of these items can promote wakefulness. Furthermore, the notifications or requirement for response of certain electrical items can be very stimulating for the brain and make sleep difficult.
Be aware that studies have shown many children use their phones after they have gone to bed. You can ensure they don’t use any screens after their bedtime by not allowing any in bedrooms.
Repeating the same activities before bed will mean they become cues for your child’s brain that it is time to sleep. This makes a relaxing bedtime routine crucial. An hour before their bedtime, set a cycle of soothing activities such as bathing, reading a story, drinking a glass of milk, or meditation.
You ought to get them into this routine long before they start school again. The more time they have to follow this routine, the more effective it will become.
Exercise can reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increase the amount of time you sleep for. If you want your kids to get a long and peaceful night of rest, working more exercise into their day is key. Whether it’s going for a jog, playing a round of football, or taking them trampolining, even light activity will make bedtime easier.
However, remember that exercise can also be very energising. You should try to ensure all strenuous activity is concluded 3 hours before bedtime, so that your child has time to relax and unwind.
Prepare the night before
Get your kids to pack their bags and lay out their clothes the night before. You can also prepare their packed lunches in advance to ensure you all get a precious few minutes extra in bed in the morning, plus it’s less likely that something will be forgotten in the mad rush to get everyone out of the house on time.
Do you have any other tips for getting your kids to sleep? Let us know in the comments below…