How To Get Your Family's Sleep Patterns Back On Track
Summer is officially winding down as kids in Converse County head back to school this week. Only problem? Trying to get enough sleep after a summer of sleepovers, vacations, late night movies and sleeping in. So how do you get your kiddos back on track while still making sure they get enough Z time? We have five tips below to help Moms and Dads not only help their kids get enough sleep but for parents too. Read on!
Set A Bedtime Routine
Summer is a great escape from routines. It really is. But when school starts, that routine we so easily forgot in May comes crashing us back to reality. For kids and young adults establishing a regular bedtime complete with a nightly routine helps key in those developing brains that it's time to start winding down. This can include bathing/showering, brushing teeth, laying out clothes and school needs for the next day, making lunches, bedtime stories and so on. A regular routine will also help Mom and Dad avoid the considerable rush in the mornings by having a routine that includes some of those morning items so you are better able to get the kids out the door on time.
Put Away The Gadgets
Media is more accessible now than ever and it comes in so many varieties: television, smartphones, handheld games, laptops, etc. It can be that even when you turn off the television in the family room every one retreats to their rooms but still is tuned in to their own screens. Make a concentrated effort as a family to start refraining from media consumption 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This will help your brain get into a pattern of winding down and you will eventually retrain your brain to calm earlier in the evening. It may feel difficult to stop the scroll, but if you are trying to increase your hours of sleep, a media fast in the evening will only help in that endeavor.
Cut the Sweets and Caffeine Intake
Families with children consume an average of 300 mg per person per day of caffeinated beverages each year. Most school-aged children drink at least one 20 ounce soda per day. Cut the caffeine, and/or sugar intake and you will find you sleep easier and take to the pillow faster. As well for younger children, cutting out juice towards bedtime will help them wind down. Need an idea of what to serve at the table? Milk or Water are excellent choices to help your family begin the eventual winding down process. Milk has tryptophan that encourages calming and easing into sleep more naturally.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Begin working on an earlier wake-up time. When the alarm goes off, stick to it, and roll your feet at the very least out of bed and on to the floor. When you have had your 7-9 hours, get up and get moving. Also be alert of how much sleep your children need. The NSF recommends that children ages 3 to 5 need 11 to 13 hours; ages 5 to 10 need 10 to 11 hours; ages 10 to 17 need 8.5. to 9.5 hours; ages 18 and above need 7 to 9 hours. So plan accordingly so that everyone wakes refreshed with plenty of sleep for the day ahead.
Stick To Your Guns
It may be hard to get moving on a new sleep routine, but the more you stick with it the better your family will eventually feel. As well you can download apps that help track your sleep patterns and let you know not just your quantity but the quality of sleep. Also, don't worry if your kids pushback a bit on their bedtimes after a summer of fun. Kids are savvy and will try to test those boundaries as much as they are able. But stick to your routines and everyone will come out ahead.
Have other tips for getting back into a great sleep routine for the school year? Let us know on our Facebook Page!