The dreaded “Back to school” signs are in the shops and the usual outings for uniform and new shoes are in full swing. Where did the last few weeks go and who is dreading the challenges of getting back to normal routine? One of the first things to go out of the window during the summer break is a regular bedtime. How can we get our children back on track by the beginning of term? Up to a quarter of children have a sleep issue at some point, and yet we all know that adequate sleep is really important. Good quality sleep is needed for our bodies to grow and repair, helps mental wellbeing and increases concentration and memory. Lack of sleep contributes to an increased risk for behavioural problems in children.
One of the difficulties with being out of routine can be traced to our body clocks. Although the day/night cycle is measured as 24 hours, our internal body clock doesn’t quite match this and has a rhythm of 24 hours and 11 minutes. This means that we get out of step quite quickly if we don’t go to bed at our usual time and it makes getting up for school feel like we’ve got jetlag! If youtry simply putting your child to bed at his or her usual time a couple of days before school starts they won’t be sleepy and you will probably end up feeling stressed and frustrated. It’s a great idea to start now, a couple of weeks before school starts. Moving bedtime earlier by around 10 minutes every third day will give your child’s body clock the chance to adjust in time for the big day!
It’s also worth checking out your child’s sleep environment. Think about whether their bed and mattress is comfortable, getting rid of excessive and distracting clutter, checking room temperature and whether the curtains keep out the light sufficiently. We know that technology can get in the way of good sleep, so getting some routines in place now can help with this issue. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the hormone melatonin which regulates our sleep/ wake cycle. This is why current advice from paediatricians is to have at least an hour away from screens before bedtime. How about having a tech amnesty before bed where all devices are left to charge overnight downstairs? You never know, you might find yourself not only modelling a good example for your child, but also getting a better night’s sleep yourself! Don’t forget if your child is struggling with sleep, an appointment with me could really help you to get it sorted out!