Top tips for getting healthy sleep back on track this September!
September is here! You’ve purchased the backpack, the school supplies, and the autumn wardrobe, and you’ve painstakingly navigated Pinterest for hundreds of great lunch plans and snack ideas. But, have you sorted out sleep?
Weeks full of late-night barbeques and marshmallow roasts may mean your kiddo’s sleep schedule has taken a slide this summer.
Get it back on track with these must-use tips for healthy sleep!
Get schedules back to normal: If your child’s bedtime has been later throughout the summer months, pull it back to an age-appropriate (and school-appropriate) time. Set bedtime incrementally earlier every night for several nights, and make wake-up time incrementally earlier as well. That way, your child will wake up with the amount of sleep they need to function well at school.
Maintain your child’s sleep schedule: Once your child’s sleep schedule is established (see above), try not to mess with it! Consistency is key for healthy sleep, particularly for children. Whenever possible, don’t allow loads of overscheduling and extracurriculars to change your child’s sleep schedule each day, to ensure he gets the proper amount of rest each night.
Establish a consistent bedtime routine: Did I mention consistency is key? Before bedtime each night, it’s a great idea to start a “quiet time” to allow your child a chance to unwind. The routine should include relaxing activities, like a bath, choosing PJs, and a short storytime, and should be done in the same order every night so your child recognizes the time for sleep is coming up.
Limit TV, video games, and other electronics before bed: Though many parents use TV and tablets to physically calm their child prior to bedtime (i.e. child is parked on the couch in front of a device to keep them from running at full speed through the entire house), electronics actually have the opposite effect that parents are looking for, revving up children’s brains right before bedtime. And, even worse, the bright light emitted from electronic devices actually inhibits the production of melatonin (which is the hormone that helps us to fall asleep); that’s the last thing we want to do right before putting our children to bed! Try to avoid electronic distractions at least one hour before bedtime, and opt for quiet reading or playing quiet board games instead.
Avoid caffeine and sugar: Sodas, energy drinks, and other sugary and caffeinated drinks can be very stimulating for children, revving them up as bedtime nears. A good rule of thumb is to avoid letting your child drink any sugary or caffeinated beverages from mid-afternoon onwards, to keep from interrupting her natural sleep patterns and making it difficult for her to fall asleep.
Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment: Human beings fall asleep more quickly and easily in places that are dark and quiet, and children are no exception. Ensure your child’s room is dark (with a little night light, of course, if there is worry about monsters under the bed!), that his bed is comfortable, and that the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. Remove electronic distractions like TVs and computers from the room environment, and set them up in a different location so your child knows his bedroom is about sleep!