Summer is such a wonderful time of the year – we ache for it all year long and it really is SO short! I hope you were able to take some time off to relax and recharge with your families. It’s also a time when our routines and schedules get a little bit relaxed, which often means our kids aren’t getting the hours of sleep at night that they require
Although it’s early August, I am already thinking about what’s around the corner – Septemberl!! My oldest child starts kindergarten this year which is going to be a huge transition for us all, and I want him to be on his game when school starts. He will be learning a new language, on top of adjusting to life as a school aged boy, so sleep is not something that we will be sacrificing in our house, and I would encourage you to make it a priority in yours as well. Recent sleep research indicates a one hour difference in sleep results in a performance gap of two full grades! We want our kids well rested, alert and eager to learn when the bell rings and school begins – it starts with great sleep hygiene at home.
Within the next few weeks, you may want to think about making some adjustments to your schedule to get your family back on track. Here are a few tips to consider as we move into the fall.
- Prepare – Start to adjust your child’s sleep/wake schedules at least 10-14 days prior to the start of school. Keeping your child’s sleep/wake times consistent (even on weekends) will ensure that their circadian rhythms are regulated.
- Bedtime Routine – Encourage your child to adopt a routine (20-30 min in length) that includes the same steps every night. It is an excellent cue to the brain and body that sleep is approaching and helps them wind down from the day’s events. Quieten down the house – dim the lights and shut off TVs and electronic devices.
- Appropriate Bedtime – Children aged 5-12 should be getting approximately 10-11 hours of sleep per night. An appropriate bedtime for this age group is 8:00pm. This is extremely important for our small children who are going into Kindergarten, who now may be adjusting to full days at school. They may require a bedtime as early as 7-7:30pm in order to help them get the hours of sleep that they need to be well-rested and eager to learn.
- Environment – Your child’s sleeping space should be dark, quiet and cool. Think of it as a cave! Keep any lighting in the room dim with low wattage light bulbs and nightlights.
- Unplug! – Recent studies have shown that the ‘blue’ light emitted from our electronic devices interferes with sleep. Exposure to artificial light at night contributes to rising rates of disrupted and disordered sleep. Blue light delays the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and disrupts circadian rhythms. High efficiency light bulbs and electronic devices such as TVs, smart phones, tablets and computers emit a high concentration of blue light. As mentioned previously, it is recommended to turn off all electronic devices at least 1 hour before bedtime to allow the body and brain to prepare for sleep.
Make your family’s sleep a priority. It is just as important to your overall health and well-being as a balanced diet and exercise.