With the new school year almost upon us, it's important to get children back into a good sleeping routine.
And with that in mind, a sleep expert has given 7 tips for easing them back into a healthy sleep schedule.
Here are Dr Nerina Ramlakha's top sleep tips to help your child ease back into their school-time sleep schedules:
1. Start to introduce technology-free time in the evenings: Research has shown that by having a constant stream of light enter our eyes before we go to sleep, we are telling our brains we want to be awake. An hour or so before bedtime, rule out any blue light. This means no TV, tablets or mobile phones. The bedroom should be a technology-free environment.
2. Gradually reintroduce earlier bedtimes: An ideal bedtime for pre-teens would be no later than 8.30pm. Gradually shift bedtime earlier over the course of a few days to allow children to adjust.
3. A calming pre-sleep routine: The few hours before bed can be just as important as actual bedtime. Relaxing baths with lavender, a milky drink or reading are great ways to help children wind down and feel ready for bed.
4. Have a chat: Heading back to school or starting a new one can be worrying for some children and leave them feeling anxious. Talk to your child about any concerns they may have before bedtime, and encourage simple yoga or meditation by repeating a calming word or by helping them with their breathing techniques, including breathing deeply from the stomach.
5. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom: Bedrooms need to be sleep-friendly and this means a cool environment. Freshly-laundered bedding, possibly lavender-fragranced, can make the room feel very calming and relaxing. Again, technology-free bedrooms are a must!
6. Exercise is key: It is scientifically proven that exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus enabling you to sleep more deeply. A short walk with children after the evening meal would be the perfect exercise to help them wind down.
7. Good nutritional habits: To help us sleep we need a good balance of the hormones serotonin and melatonin in our system. Sending children off to school with a balanced lunchbox will help to promote a healthy hormone balance. Things such as chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk are all high in serotonin and are lunchbox friendly.
Dr Ramlakha, who is bedmaker Silentnight's sleep expert, said: “The school holidays are an exciting time for children. It means enjoying lovely holiday lie-ins, afternoon naps, and sometimes late nights, all hugely affecting both parents’ and children's body clocks.
“Routine is key to children feeling ready for bed at a suitable time and waking up refreshed. The sooner you begin to reintroduce a sleeping rhythm, after several weeks of irregularity, the sooner all the family can fall back into a healthy pattern."
For more information and sleep tips visit www.silentnight.co.uk/sleep-matters