Seven ways to get your children ready to head back to school
The new school year is just around the corner, but your little ones might not be ready to go back just yet.
Ahead of the big day, a leading sleep expert has shared a simple guide to help parents ease their children back into a good term-time sleep routine.
School holidays are jam-packed with activities - which can mean a lot of later nights, and lots of lie-ins too.
The busy schedule can take its toll when the new term starts, so helping your children get back into a sensible routine for sleep can help them start school on a high.
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan said: “The summer holidays often put stress on the whole family’s sleeping patterns, so it’s important to help children get back into a good sleeping routine to make sure they are well rested for their first school day.
“The school holidays are an exciting time for children, but lack of routine and a combination of lie-ins and late nights can wreak havoc with childrens' body clocks.
She added: “Routine is key to children feeling ready for bed at a suitable time and waking up feeling refreshed.
"After six weeks of irregularity, the sooner you begin to reintroduce a regular bedtime routine, the sooner all the family can fall back into a healthy sleep pattern.”
Here are seven of Dr Nerina's tips:
1. Start to introduce tech-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 actually telling our brains that we want to be awake.
An hour or so before children go to bed, rule out any blue light.
This means no TV, tablets or mobile phones. Give your child the chance to fully wind down before bed away from any screens.
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 to their term time routine once they're back in school.
The start of term can be exhausting for children particularly if they’ve moved up to secondary school and are adjusting to a new learning environment.
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Don’t underestimate the power of an early night.
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 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), 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.