Late nights gaming, online, or just watching movies over the school holidays will have kids sleep routines in a chaotic mess.
School returns in less than two weeks and, according to Dr Stephanie Centofanti and Dr Alex Agostini from the University of South Australia, children need time to reset their body clocks otherwise they will have the equivalent of jet lag when they return to school.
“Easing kids into consistent and predictable routines help them avoid difficulties associated with sleepiness, irritability and paying attention in the first weeks back at school,” they said.
Slowly changing their bedtime back to the normal term time by five or ten minutes each night is important as is waking them up earlier each day.
The slower the return to normal bedtimes the easier young people can adjust their biological rhythms.
Research shows a good sleep routine is essential for children’s emotional, physical and mental health, especially after school holidays, the Doctors explained.
“Having a relaxing pre-bed routine and going to bed at the same time every night can teach the body when it’s time to fall asleep. This can make falling asleep easier, leading to a longer and more restful night’s sleep,” Dr Agostini says.
The doctors recommend parents sit down with their children to design a pre-bed routine that will be relaxing for their child. This might include a bath, reading a book, listening to music, or even talking about tomorrow’s plans. The important thing is getting kids involved in this process to help them feel they have Artificial blue light from gaming machines, tablets, phones, LEDs and television decreases the onset of melatonin, the hormone that activates sleepiness, according to sleepfoundation.org.
Melatonin is decreased in the day and increases from sunset onwards.
The blue light fools the body into believing it is still daytime.
Blue light doubles the decrease in melatonin in children as their eyes are more sensitive and hormonal changes have not yet begun.
Dr Agostini says to avoid having a cranky kid in the morning parents need to be aware of their children’s needs and help them adjust their regular sleep routine.