04 Sep Back to school, back to our sleep routine!
If sleep is important for adults, for children it’s vital, necessary and an undoubted prerequisite for the proper functioning of the brain. Without adequate sleep, children and adolescents may present trouble in concentrating, memory and problem solving. Lack of sleep can also affect children’s emotions and behaviour, which in turn can affect school performance. That is why it is important that we reinstate their sleep routine on time, so that we make sure they have all the energy and clarity they need to make it through the new school year!
The best way to do that is gradually, starting about 2 weeks before the first day of school, thus giving them enough time to adjust. Quite often during summer months the rules are more flexible, playing games becomes a full time activity and children (like the rest of us) go to bed later than usual, also waking up later. But when the time comes to go back to school they will have to return to their routine, so that they are able to successfully attend the classes and activities of the day. Therefore, we begin to push the sleeping and waking time back by 10-15 minutes each night, until we reach the appointed time according to the schedule.
The goal would be that they receive adequate sleep each night, according to their needs based on their age and their body. Usually, preschoolers (ages 3-5) require 10-13 hours of sleep, school-age children (ages 6-12) require 9-12 hours, and teenagers (ages 13-18) require 8-10 hours. To avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation, such as sleepiness, low creativity, slow adjusting, stress and bad mood, we make sure we implement a schedule that allows children to enjoy the required hours of good sleep.
Continuing steadily and consistently (no matter how difficult it may seem at first) to push back their bedtime, we can make things better with a few adjustments that will help children relax and sleep more easily. About one or half an hour before bed, we urge them to stay away from screens and electronic devices, since the blue light they emit suppresses the production of melatonin, thus also obstructing sleep. We suggest a relaxing activity instead, such as a quiet conversation with us, the reading of a book or a creative activity, like a jigsaw puzzle.
Additionally, it is very important that we keep their sleeping environment dark and quiet. We try to create a relaxing atmosphere, drawing the curtains and using soft lighting. We also make a habit out of using the bedroom only for sleeping, doing all other activities in different areas of the home. Last but not least, we pay attention to their diet and physical exercise not only during vacation days, but also while we are returning to the school time schedule! Meaning, we try to avoid heavy meals before bedtime and we encourage children to participate in physical activities during the day.
By implementing these simple suggestions steadily and consistently, we will be successful in reinstating children’s sleep routine, but of course this does not only apply to children. As we already know, a steady sleep routine has benefits also for adults, while it helps them to present their children with a good paradigm. Our everyday routine is our key ally in enjoying a quality, restful sleep and returning to it after vacation is the key to a successful school year. That way, children can peacefully enjoy their sleep, while we rest assured that we offer them the best we possibly can!