Late night slumber parties, lazy mornings, all-nighters at sleep away camp, and fun-filled family vacations – just some of the contributing factors to a broken routine when school is out for the summer. It’s nice to allow your kids a more relaxed schedule, sleep included, during the summer months, but at some point you’ve got to get back in the grind. Sunday night on the eve of the first day of the 2013 school year is not the opportune time to do so.
Sleep is vital to everyone’s health, but especially for your growing children. While it is certainly acceptable to loosen the strings on your child’s sleep schedule over the summer, it will take some time for them to develop healthy sleeping habits again. It is your job as the parent to make sure this happens, so that by the time school is back in session, they aren’t falling asleep at their desk, cranky all day, and more prone to illness.
To avoid those problems, you need to get your child’s mind and body programmed accordingly. Consistency is key when it comes to optimal sleep health. At least one week prior to the first day of school, put the following actions in to practice:
- Set a Schedule. It is important to establish a designated bed time in advance, and just as important to stick to it as rigidly as possible. The time that you choose depends on your child’s individual needs and the time at which they wake up for school each day.
- Send Signals. There are certain activities that will basically send a signal to your child’s brain and body that it is time to start winding down, and they include taking a bath, reading a story, singing mellow songs, or drinking some milk.
- Relaxing Room. Make sure your child’s room is conducive for sleep. This means minimal light, noise, and distractions, especially from electronic devices (television, computer, iPad, etc.). The only exception to this is if your child responds well to hearing soothing sounds from nature while they sleep.
- Keep Calm. Avoid all kinds of stimulants close to bedtime. This means no video games, no physical activity, no sugar, and of course – no caffeine!
- Stay on Track. Even when the weekend arrives, it is in your child’s best interest to adhere to the school week sleep schedule as much as possible. There is room for flexibility, but don’t go crazy.
When it comes time to ditch the summer sleeping habits, it is safe to assume that your children will not be thrilled, but it’s for their own good. You will be glad you put your foot down when school starts because they will be able to focus better, which means better overall performance in the classroom, as well as better mental and physical health. Not only will your life be easier if you help your child establish a healthy post-summer sleep schedule, but consider the additional information below regarding sleep health.
- Kindergarten-aged children need as much as 10 to 12.5 hours of sleep per night.
- Children who sleep less than nine hours a night have an increased risk of not performing well in school, which can lead to behavior problems, self-esteem issues, and sleep disorders.
- Lack of sleep and rest results in stress, which has an inhibitory effect on growth and immunity. As a result, your child may develop a learning disability, memory impairment, excessive moodiness, and even poor social skills.
Sleep deprivation affects the hormones that control hunger and appetite, so poor sleeping habits can lead to obesity and weight problems, and in worst case scenarios – diabetes.