Back to school? Here are some tips to help you and your kids get back to sleeping easy
Transition from summer to school year can wreak havoc on sleep patterns, sleep consultant says
School starts this week, which means goodbye to lazy summer days and hello to late-night homework and early-morning lunch packing.
This switch from summer to school routines can wreak havoc on sleep patterns, says Carrie Prowse, a sleep consultant in Winnipeg.
"Summer just throws schedules completely off-track," she said.
"Gearing back can be quite a shift for some of these young kids."
Children from kindergarten from Grade 6 or 7 should be getting about 10 hours of sleep a night, while kids in high school should get at least nine hours, she said.
Meanwhile, adults should also be trying to get their eight hours a night.
With that in mind, Prowse shared her tips with Information Radio to help both kids and parents to make sure they're getting enough rest.
Set a bedtime, and stick to it.
Prowse said her No. 1 tip for getting enough sleep is having a regular, scheduled bed time. For younger kids, that likely means going to bed at around 8 p.m., while older children should go to bed no later than 9:30 or 10 p.m.
It doesn't have to happen overnight, Prowse said, advising parents to scale back bedtimes over a week to ease kids in.
"You can start scaling back bedtime, about 15 minutes every day, until you're at a more age-appropriate bedtime for your children," she said.
Avoid screens before bed
In the age of the smartphone, kids and adults alike can be glued to screens at all hours of the day. But the blue light produced by computers, cell phones, tablets and televisions is meant to mimic daylight and suppresses melatonin, Prowse said. This means screen time can often wind kids up rather than winding them down, Prowse said.
Prowse recommends no screen time 90 minutes before bedtime for both kids and adults, even though it might be challenging.
"Suppressed melatonin makes it harder to fall asleep, makes it harder to stay asleep, and that really affects your day time productivity levels. You won't be as alert, you won't be as conscious in your discussions, you'll have a lot of forgetfulness issues," she said.
"So turning off those devices will make you more productive during the day and then give you that wind-down time in the evening when you don't have to deal with them."
Get ready the night before
Prowse also encourages parents to try to get as much done as they can in the evenings, like packing lunches and laying out your outfit for the next day, so they don't have to get up super early.
"The more prepared you can make yourself for the next morning, you'll find that the cycle kind of feeds itself, and it gets easier in the evening to get those tasks accomplished, and then you're sleeping better," she said.