Sleeping in during the summer is a top perk for kids, but breaking the habit before the new school year begins will ensure your children are well-rested and healthy.
“Beyond feeling tired, slow and miserable the next day, not getting enough sleep can lead to a variety of health problems down the line, including obesity, high blood pressure or depression,” says Lisa Sussman, Psy.D, a health psychologist with Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine. She has a few tips to get kids on a normal sleep schedule in time for the first day of school.
· Start in advance. A week or two before school begins, start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every couple of days and set an alarm in the morning earlier and earlier leading up to the first day of school. By the time school starts, your child will be ready when it comes to sleep!
· Encourage reading. Reading before bedtime is a great way to wind down from an energetic day. It’s an activity that relaxes both the body and mind. Consider either reading to your children as a family activity or allow your child to read on his or her own before their head hits the pillow.
· Dim the lights. The simple act of lowering the lights helps remind a child that it’s time for bed and triggers melatonin production, which tells the body it’s time for sleep. Use curtains or blackout shades if the late summer sun is still up at your child’s bedtime.
· Limit caffeine and sugar. Try to eliminate all caffeine and sugar a few hours before it’s time to go to sleep. This means sweets like cookies and chocolate, along with beverages like juice, lemonade and sodas. Not having that adrenaline in their system can help their bodies naturally relax.
· Eliminate screen time an hour before bed. As screens have become a main entertainment source, it’s important to remember that they are not sleep-inducing. To calm your child before bed, turn off the electronics at least 60 minutes before it’s time to sleep, allowing brain activity to relax. To promote the best sleep quality, there should not be a TV in the bedroom.
Regardless of what avenue you take to help your child fall asleep, Dr. Sussman says it’s important to develop a routine you can stick to. “Getting enough sleep at a young age will promote a healthy lifestyle and proper brain and body development in the long-term.”
Lisa Sussman, Psy.D is a health psychologist with Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine. Learn more about our integrative health and medicine program.
Learn more about getting a good night’s sleep and parenting from our health experts at 1-844-HMH-Well.The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.