School’s out and most kids (and parents) are thrilled to ditch the early start times that we know can be difficult. However, the consistent schedule of school time also encourages healthy sleep hygiene by regulating our kids’ circadian rhythms (aka body clocks) so that they can maintain adequate sleep throughout the school year.
Take that away and you may end up with a worse habit to deal with as the school year ramps back up. So what can we do to encourage healthy sleep during summer break?
According to a study posted in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a simple 3-message approach works in helping kids age 2 to 12 years old gain and maintain better sleep. These messages could be beneficial any time of the year but are important to follow through on during vacations and other non-structured school breaks.
Bedtime before 9:00pm
This one is slightly difficult to enforce, especially when it’s still light out. Try room darkening shades to keep their bedroom dark and conducive to sleep. Older kids may balk at the idea of going to bed at 9:00 pm during summer break. Remind them that in order to be ready for the next day of summer fun, they need to get plenty of rest. It’s ok to give them a break if there’s a special event or sleepover but keeping to the bedtime routine will help them readjust when school starts again in just a few months.
No electronics in the bedroom
We all know how attached to tablets, smartphones and TVs our kids can become. But these devices are largely detrimental to quality sleep in kids, further messing with their body clocks. Once it’s time to get ready for bed, all electronics should be turned off or removed from the bedroom altogether if possible. Letting kids fall asleep with the TV on is actually very damaging to their sleep patterns. The blue light that is emitted from electronics is designed to keep us awake and alert. Find an app or program that filters out the blue light from their phones, tablets or laptops. iPhone has “Night Shift” built in to its iOS settings, Twilight is a great app for Android and F.lux does the same for all Windows devices.
This one is easy for young children, harder for the pre-teen kids. If you’re household doesn’t allow caffeinated sodas or other beverages, this one is already in the bag but if your older child drinks soda, iced coffee drinks or anything with caffeine (like energy drinks), you’ve got to avoid them like the plague before bed in order to guarantee a deep sleep at night. Any caffeinated beverage should be consumed earlier in the day, avoiding them at or after dinner time. Caffeine can cause insomnia and sleep interruptions if consumed too close to bedtime. Pay attention to your child’s sensitivity levels and eliminate it altogether if you see your child is having a tough time winding down at night.
Following these 3 steps can help your child get the best possible sleep in these long summer nights and help them enjoy their time with family and friends.
For more sleep hygiene tips, click here.