The Sleep Charity are encouraging parents to coach their kids into a healthy bedtime routine before they go back to school this Sleeptember (September 2020).
Sleep routines can often slip during summer holidays, and with many children being off school since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is even more important to make plans to get a child’s sleep patterns back on track before term time starts again.
Said Vicki Dawson, CEO of The Sleep Charity: “Summer holidays are a fun and exciting time for children, but they can also disrupt bedtimes. During the break it’s tempting to allow youngsters to sleep in later, however it’s important that children get into a routine before they go back to school.
“Sleep isn’t taken seriously enough by most people. If children were getting less food than they needed to function well, people would be horrified. But when it comes to sleep, we seem as a nation to be very accepting of sleep deprivation – which can have serious consequences for mental, physical and emotional health.”
The Sleep Charity suggests parents should start trying to re-establish their child’s regular sleep routine at least a week before they go back.
Said Vicki: “Being a parent is a really difficult job – there’s so much conflicting information out there! Sadly, there isn’t a great deal of quality information around sleep. We need to be taught about sleep in schools so that we understand about the importance of routines and coaching children into good habits.
“Children thrive on routine, they can also meet their full potential more easily when they have had a good night’s sleep. When children become sleep deprived, it can lead them to being hyperactive, tearful and finding it difficult to concentrate in school.”
Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Young children need around 10-11 hours sleep a night, older ones around nine. Lack of sleep can make children irritable and can lead to mood swings, behavioural problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive issues that affect their ability to learn in school.
Here are some top tips to help your child get back into a routine ready for school:
- If bedtime has got later and later, you need to start to gradually move your child’s bedtime forwards by 15 minutes every three nights.
- Implement a good routine one hour before bedtime. Dim the lights and encourage restful hand eye co-ordination activities such as jigsaws, colouring and craft type activities.
- Set a consistent wake up time each morning. Open the curtains straight away, and if possible get outside for half an hour to help to reset your child’s body clock.
- Avoid screen activities for an hour before bedtime as this can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin from being created.
- Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature – around 18 degrees.
- Explain the importance of a good night’s sleep to them.
- Encourage regular exercise – outdoor play, bike rides, walks or sport.
- Make sure the bed is comfortable and that it is still big enough for growing children.