Whether it is returning from summer vacation or an action-packed weekend, children are often strangely enticed by staying up as late as humanly possible. This can be especially challenging when transitioning into normal patterns like waking up on time for school. The amount of sleep recommended for children varies with age. Toddlers typically sleep 11- to 14-hours in a 24-hour period; preschoolers 10- to 13-hours; elementary-aged 9- to 12-hours; and teenagers 8- to 10-hours. * Ample sleep improves cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.** Listed below are tips to encourage peaceful slumbers through the back-to-school transition:
Gradual adjustments and regular rhythms. If possible, gradually adjust their sleep and wake schedule to their optimal windows. Maintain regular bedtimes on weekends to keep their circadian rhythms regulated. Create age-appropriate, relaxing bedtime routines to help your child or children slow down before bed. The routine should be the same every night so that they associate all steps with sleep.
Create a sleep-conducive environment. Create an environment that is cool, quiet, dimly lit, and comfortable to best optimize their sleep. If you have dimmers in your living spaces, consider lowering the light to better mirror the natural phenomenon occurring outside..
Power down. Electronics should be kept out of the bedroom. This includes video games, televisions, computers, and cell phones. Eliminate exposure to electronic media within an hour before bed. The short-wavelength, artificial blue light that is emitted by these devices suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. It also increases their alertness which delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the following morning. Over time, these effects may cause a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.
Eat well and move regularly. Nutrition and exercise are essential components of a healthy lifestyle. It is important to include both recreational workouts and leisurely movement. Taking the stairs, walking home from school, completing household chores, and engaging in fun family activities like hiking, biking, etc. are all excellent sources! The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 150-minutes per week.
Lastly, limit caffeine intake. Caffeine consumption – including soft drinks, tea, coffee, and energy drinks – are significantly correlated with morning tiredness, sleep routine, restless sleep, and problematic internalizing daytime behaviours. *** Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15-minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours. It takes approximately 6-hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated.***
We recognize that each child is unique and will experience this transition in varying capacities. Be mindful and patient with the process and honour what feels best for your family!