How to get a child's sleep routine back in sync

·2-min read

School holidays and vacations can wreak havoc on a child's routine.

Researchers have even reported that it can take kids more than a week to get back into a regular pattern after they emerge from a summer break.

To help ease children back to school, psychologist and resident sleep expert at sleep tech specialist SIMBA, Hope Bastine, has shared her top tips for encouraging a positive transition.

Start now

Slow and steady wins the race - sudden and rapid change is not the answer here.

"Start building in things they associate with a term time routine daily, whether it's packing a bag or laying clothes out for the next day, making lunch for the next day, bath time or eating breakfast together before getting dressed," she said.

Turn down the tech gradually

The internet has been a great educational platform and a terrific source of entertainment over lockdown, but as we head back to school, it's time to start reinforcing the boundaries again gently.

"The blue light emitted by electronic screens can reprogram the brain to delay the onset of sleep," the expert explained. "Again, starting now, gradually reduce the time on mobile phones, tablets or computers before bed. Ideally longer, but aim for at least an hour before bed with no technology."

Set a 'lights out' time

Once they have returned to school, it may sound archaic but setting a strict bedtime is incredibly important.

"This will help your children to establish a timely pre-bedtime process. Sticking to this routine over time will condition your child to feel sleepy at a similar time every night," noted Hope. "Soothing things to include in an evening routine are a warm bath, teeth brushing and 30 minutes of reading."

A healthy breakfast means a healthy night's sleep

A healthy and nutritious breakfast is essential to getting children up and ready for the day.

"Dial down the sugary food, balance is essential. If you have the time, try making scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast, porridge or chopping banana into Greek yoghurt with a spoonful of honey," she continued. "Research has shown that these healthy fibrous breakfasts help the production of your children's sleep hormone, melatonin, later in the evening and the sooner they eat in the morning the better. It may seem like a chore, but more time spent in the morning prepping means more time for you in the evening when they're soundly sleeping."