As the school holidays come to an end, it's time for the kids to say goodbye to staying up late on school nights, and say hello to regular bedtimes and early mornings.
Our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, says: "The school holidays are an exciting time for children, it means enjoying lovely holiday lie-ins, afternoon naps, and sometimes late nights, all hugely affecting both parents' and childrens' body clocks. Routine is key to children waking up refreshed and feeling ready for bed at a suitable time."
We understand the school holidays can be hectic and with that comes hectic bedtimes and mornings, as we work to rebuild that all-important sleep routine! That's why Dr Nerina has provided us with a great list of her top tips to ease your child back into a school-time sleep schedule.
1. Start to introduce technology-free time in the evenings
Research has shown that by having a constant stream of light enter our eyes before we go to sleep, we are actually telling our brains that we want to be awake. An hour or so before children go to bed, rule out any blue light. This means no TV, tablets or mobile phones. The bedroom should be a technology free zone.
2. Gradually reintroduce earlier bedtimes
An ideal bedtime for pre-teens would be no later than 8.30pm, gradually shift bedtime earlier over the course of a few days to allow children to adjust.
3. A calming pre-sleep routine
The few hours before bed can be just as important as actual bedtime. Relaxing baths with lavender, a milky drink or reading are great ways to help children wind down and feel ready for bed.
4. Have a chat
Heading back to school or starting a new one, can be worrying for some children, and leave them feeling anxious. Talk to your child about any concerns they may have before bedtime, and encourage simple yoga or meditation by repeating a calming word or by helping them with their breathing techniques, including breathing deeply from the stomach.
5. Create a sleep friendly bedroom
Bedrooms need to be sleep friendly and this means a cool environment. Freshly laundered bedding, possibly lavender fragranced, can make the room feel very calming and relaxing. Again, technology free bedrooms are a must!
6. Exercise is key
It is scientifically proven that exercise can help you get a better night's sleep. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus enabling you to sleep more deeply. A short walk with children after the evening meal would be the perfect exercise to help them wind down.
7. Good nutritional habits
To help us sleep we need a good balance of the hormones serotonin and melatonin in our system. Sending children off to school with a balanced lunchbox will help to promote a healthy hormone balance. Things such as chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk are all high in serotonin and are lunchbox friendly.