How can you help your child get the rest they need?

Back-to-school plans this year encourage a safe return to in-person learning to support children’s academic and psychological well-being. It’s tempting to allow summer sleep schedules to remain in place. However, it is important that children have a routine and that they sleep during the night and wake up during the day. Our bodies work best when this happens. This is true even for home-schooling families: Even if the commute to school is a short walk to the table, children shouldn’t spend all day in bed.

Children need to sleep well. Children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely have behavioral and health problems, as well as learning difficulties.

These are some simple ways to ensure your child gets the rest they need.

Maintain a regular routine

Our bodies work best when we get to sleep and wake up around the same time each day.

  • Teens and children need between 8-10 hours sleep each night. Add 10 hours to the time your child must get up each morning. This is the time they should be getting ready to go to bed. For younger children, it may take 11 hours.
  • If your teen has to get up at 7 AM, they should be ready to go by 9 AM and in bed by 10. Most people don’t fall asleep as soon as their head touches the pillow. An older child should get ready (bathing and such) by 8. Around 8.
  • Understanding that teens’ biological wiring allows them to sleep later, wake up later, and have a tendency to go to bed later. This is something that most schools don’t allow, and you will often be working against your biology.
  • It’s fine to be up later on weekends but don’t make your bedtime longer than an hour.

Before you go to bed, turn off all screens

The blue light emitted from screens can keep us awake.

  • The screens should be turned off at least two hours before your child goes to bed. The screens should go off at the same time they are getting ready to sleep.
  • This is only possible if you get rid of all your devices from the bedroom. (So true!)
  • Teens will be adamant about this. Keep your cool and buy them an alarm clock if necessary. Make sure your phone is set to Do Not Disturb mode at night.

Create a sleeping environment

  • Keep things quiet. Turn the volume down if you’re watching TV. Also, try not to make too much noise when your children go to bed.
  • A white noise machine or fan, or an air conditioner if your home is warm, might be a good option. For teens who can’t leave their phones at home, there are white noise apps.
  • Children who wake up at dawn or can’t sleep if it isn’t dark outside can benefit from room-darkening curtains.

Learn more about how other factors affect sleep

  • Teens who are too busy often find it difficult to complete tasks in the time they need. Talk to your teenager about their day and discuss ways you can help them get more sleep. You must prioritize sleep.
  • Limit caffeine. It is best to avoid caffeine, but it is better not to consume any after mid-afternoon.
  • Limit naps! Naps may seem like a good idea for an older child, but they can disrupt night-time sleep. Through preschool, napping is acceptable.
  • Get your child to exercise. It is important for their health and their sleep.
  • Do calming exercises before you go to bed. 

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