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September is here again. This week marks the end of the summer as the UK's kids head back to school for a long stretch of learning (at least until October). For parents, the six weeks holidays are the time when children are allowed more freedom, which can often extend to their bed times too.
However, problems can occur when the time comes to get kids to readjust to their usual routine ahead of the new school year. To help you ensure your kids are well rested, this article will look at why sleep is so important for children, as well as some top tips for getting them back into their routine.
Sleep really matters for kids
Getting a good night's sleep is incredibly important for your child's wellbeing. Because kids are still growing, their bodies need more time to rest than an adult, and a lack of it can cause problems in their development. It can even lead to health problems like exhaustion and obesity can set in due to a lack of sleep.
In addition, poor sleeping patterns can cause issues at school. We're not just talking about falling asleep in class out of boredom, but a long-term effect on their academic performance. Many studies, including this one from McGill University and Douglas Mental Health University Institute, have found direct links between a regular sleep pattern and better grades. For kids who are at a critical stage of their education, getting enough shut eye could potentially impact their future.
How to help your kids re-adjust after the summer holidays
So, we know that sleep is vital to your child's health and school life, but how can you help them adjust once school begins? Here are our top tips.
Find out how much sleep they need and adjust early
Before you can decide when they should be going to bed and waking up, you need to know what is an appropriate night's rest for your child. The NHS has healthy sleep recommendations for different ages, so you will need to use these when working out when a suitable bed time will be.
Kids always like to stay up a little later during the summer, and an effective way to help them slowly re-adjust is to bring bedtime forwards by 15 minutes in the week before school starts. This way, you can get them to sleep earlier without them feeling like they are losing out when still on holiday.
Obviously, older children will see straight through this ploy, so be sure to have a grown-up conversation with them about the importance of resting for school. Most teenagers love to sleep, so convincing them they need to spend more time under the duvet shouldn't be too difficult.
Get mean with their screens
The average age a child gets their first mobile phone is now 10 (Influence Central), so it's easy to see that kids are now glued to technology earlier than ever before. However, there are growing concerns that this could be affecting the quality of sleep among youngsters. In fact, more than two hours screen time before bed was linked to getting less rest by a 2015 study by BMJ Journals, which looked at teenagers in particular.
When your children go back to school, you should consider reducing their screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime to ensure they get the best sleep possible. If your kids have their own screens, make sure they are turned off about 90 minutes before they are due to sleep, which will give their brains time to switch off too.
If you suspect there may be some sneaky screen time going on, most handheld devices now have a filter built into them that can be switched on to block blue light — the type that affects sleep the most. These options can be set to a schedule so that the filter starts to work hours before bed.
Ensure their room is a haven for sleep
Making sure that your child's room is set-up for a good night's rest is also very important. Though the summer may be over, September still has a fair share of lighter mornings and evenings, which can interfere when you're trying to introduce an earlier bedtime. Natural light can make it difficult for them to nod off, so, if necessary, add some heavy curtains or blackout blinds to ensure they aren't affected.
It's also vital that your child's bed is comfortable to minimise any tossing and turning through the night. A memory foam mattress is one of the best ways to provide these qualities, as it will give your child the right level of support no matter what position they like to sleep in. Our range of memory foam mattresses are the very best on the market, with sizes to suit all ages and prices to suit all budgets. We've even picked up a Which? Best Buy award for the quality of our products.
Don't allow any caffeine or sugar before bed
Our final tip is to make sure that your child does not consume any sugar-filled or caffeinated food or drink, such as cola, chocolate, or coffee, in the hours leading up to bedtime. The last thing you want on a school night is a hyperactive or wired child climbing the walls instead of settling down for bed. Try and get them used to not having any snacks late in the evening and they will have an easier time getting to sleep.
That wraps up our top tips for helping your kids get a good night's sleep before school. Follow our advice and they will wake up fresh and ready to learn throughout the term. If you have any questions or would like some advice about kitting out your child's bedroom, don't hesitate to get in touch. Our blog and advice centre are also great places to get extra information.
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