Most parents have dealt with having to hurry a sleepy child out the door on a school morning, but experts say taking the time to establish good sleep routines for your kids is worth the effort.
Amid the pandemic, there can be a great deal of uncertainty around school, but a set sleep regimen can help ease youngsters' stress and anxiety, according to Stephanie Centofanti and Alex Agostini, sleep experts at the University of South Australia.
"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," Agostini said in a university news release.
"We 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 ensure their buy-in," Agostini advised.
Centofanti recommended "making small changes to your child's routine over time -- perhaps moving their bedtime by five or 10 minutes each night -- [which] can adjust their biological rhythms more easily. And if you have kids who sleep in, make sure you wake them a little earlier each day."
Putting away all cellphones before bed can also get the entire family into a good sleeping rhythm, Agostini said.
"Setting clear boundaries around technology use is critical so that it doesn't creep into the late evening hours when kids should be preparing for sleep," she explained.
It's also important for parents to remember "that sleep needs change with age and are different for every child," Agostini noted.
Other suggestions to help children get a good night's sleep include having them exercise during the day, giving them lighter meals in the evening and keeping the bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
"Nobody wants a cranky kid in the morning," Agostini said. "A regular, predictable and relaxing bed routine will help get your child off to sleep and start the day in the best way possible."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on healthy sleep habits.
SOURCE: University of South Australia, news release, Jan. 23, 2022