Back to School and Back to Sleep
Going back to school can ruin an established sleep routine and make things far more difficult! We spoke to sleep consultant Boogie Kucharska-Hodgkins about how to settle your little ones back into a better night’s sleep.
Holiday season is over and children are now back to school. The dreaded morning rush hours are back on the agenda in many households and if only there was an easy way to get your children ready on time…
One of the things you should bring back is getting your child on an appropriate sleep schedule, then everything else should fall into the right places. It's very common for the schedules to get out of control during the holiday period. The day is longer, the child doesn't have to get up early to get ready for school or the nursery and there are many exciting things to do. Bedtime becomes later and later. Once the school starts, late bedtime becomes an issue. School children need at least 10 hours of consolidated, good-quality night-time sleep to get through the day, so it’s absolutely essential to put them on a right schedule. Here are some tips on how to act on it:
- Prepare the room
Getting the room ready for the night is vital. It’s still quite sunny in the early months of autumn, so you will have to block out that sunlight as much as possible. Invest in blackout curtains or blinds or just simply put a blanket over the curtain pole. Tape the fabric to the wall around the edges, so that the light doesn’t leak in. It will help your child fall asleep easier as her body will start producing melatonin quicker.
If reading is part of your child’s bedtime routine, then swap the bedside light bulb to a weaker one that sends yellow, red or orange glow. The colour of the light may interfere with melatonin production, especially if the light is blue or white.
- Bring the early bedtime back
If you haven’t already done so, start bringing bedtime back on track by reducing the late bedtime hour every 15-20 min over 2 or 3 days. Hopefully, by the end of this week you will have your child in bed one hour earlier. So, if your child was used to going to bed at 8 or 9 during the summer holidays, he will be back to his usual 7pm/8pm bedtime schedule.
- Establish a solid bedtime routine
No matter how boring you think it is to follow the same steps in your child’s bedtime routine every single night, this is a cue for his brain and body to prepare for the night. Make sure that it’s no longer than 30 min. If your child is old enough to do the bedtime routine by himself but struggles to keep it short and sweet, then set the timer up. Tell him he has 20 min to wash himself, put PJs on and brush teeth before the timer rings. Children love a bit of a challenge. Once you are back in the child’s room, choose a calming activity like reading or guided meditation. This will bring in a relaxing vibe.
- No screens before bed
If you want your child to set off quickly to a dream-land then make sure you don’t let her watch TV, iPad, computer or any other electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. All of the above emit blue light that interferes with melatonin production. In consequence, it can either take your child longer to fall asleep, cause multiple wake-ups at night or premature wake-up in the morning and nobody likes to get up at 5am!
If your child has a tough time going to bed early, offer a reward for the following morning. It doesn’t have to be a huge incentive but something to keep her interested in going to bed at an appropriate time.
The more your child goes to bed at the same time and wakes up at the same time, the better-quality sleep he gets. Accommodating 10 hours of good night-time sleep will help your child concentrate and learn all those fantastic skills at school. Hopefully, it will also save your precious time in the morning as you won’t have to dragging him out of bed.
Boguslawa Kucharska-Hodgkins (aka Boogie) is a certified sleep consultant and a founder of Sleepy Moonkeeper. She works with tired parents and their babies to put all sleep issues behind them. She advises parents in both English and Polish language. Find out more about her services here. Website: http://www.sleepymoonkeeper.com
Facebook: @sleepymoonkeeperInstagram: @mamasleepymoonkeeper