13 Sep Struggling to get the little ones down after an exciting six weeks?
As the fun and excitement of the summer holidays draws to a close, the return to school brings with it a change in routine that often means a change in sleep patterns for children. Sleep is important for a child’s wellbeing; sleep is key for waking up energised and in a good mood, allowing you to perform at your best both physically and mentally, whether that’s at school or at home.
Just like adults, tiredness impacts a child’s ability to concentrate and their productivity. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation, even partial, can significantly affect mood and wellbeing. Without getting the adequate amount of sleep, it is much harder for our brain to absorb, process and recall new information. The National Sleep Foundation generally recommends 10 to 13 hours for pre-school aged children, nine to 11 hours for school-aged children, and eight to 10 for teenagers.
As children grow up and hit preadolescence, they begin to experience a delay in their circadian rhythm. With their internal clock shifted back slightly, they will find themselves needing more sleep in the morning and also find themselves awake longer in the evening, potentially impacting cognitive performance.
One study measuring the brain activity of children aged between five and 12 found that those whose sleep was cut short had an increased need for deep sleep in maturing areas of the brain. This affects the regions of the brain involved in vision, spatial perception and processing multi-sensory input. While long-term consequences to cognition and learning still need to be investigated, this highlights the vital role regular sleep plays in helping children to be the best versions of themselves and giving their minds and bodies the time necessary to recharge.
Some Tips for Sleep
Make a plan (and stick to it!)
Keeping a regular bedtime all week – Monday to Sunday – is essential to avoid difficulties sleeping. It helps to have a regular sleep schedule that involves some time for slowing down and avoiding excitement. Reading with your child or giving them a bath can be a great way to
help them wind down before bed.
While a bit of bedtime TV may feel like a good idea as part of winding down, the blue light emitted by screens such as mobiles, TVs and tablets can inhibit the production of melatonin; a sleep-inducing hormone that usually signals when it’s night-time and instructs our bodies to go to sleep. Keep the bedroom free from these electronic devices and ensure children avoid blue light at least a couple of hours before bed.
A cuddle before bed is more than just a nice way for your little one to drift off to sleep.
Not only does it help them feel safe and secure in their bedroom, it also helps to reduce their core body temperature, as the blood vessels in their hands and feet dilate.
This helps their bodies dissipate excessive body heat, which is crucial for sleep as the body needs to cool down in order to enter a good night’s rest.