With school in session for at least six weeks now, hopefully you and your children have settled into a family routine that includes an established wake-up time and bedtime. Some families may be struggling with bedtime during school nights, while others are thankful that regular bedtime hours are now familiar, accepted, and customary.
Kids thrive on schedules and do better when knowing the expectations at home and at school. A child feels safe and confident when he knows what is allowed and accepted throughout the day, especially at bedtime. Knowing the rules and what the usual bedtime is doesn’t have to be a battle. A regular routine that includes the “Four Bs” of bathing, brushing teeth, books and bedtime helps kids to wind down and settle into bed for a good night’s sleep. Most kids are very active during the day with school followed by after school activities, so it is a good idea to give them an opportunity to slow down and unwind.
Staying up late to do homework, participating in sports and other after school activities beyond a child’s bedtime, affects your child’s sleep cycle and will shift away from their ideal bedtime.
Children who do not follow a good sleep schedule will wake up feeling tired and be cranky throughout the day. Sleep deprivation can cause moodiness and inability to focus in school, even weight gain. Kids can exhibit extreme changes in behavior, become hyper, and disagreeable without proper sleep.
Leave at least one hour of technology-free time before bed to allow your child to settle down before lights are out. Consider alerting your child that his bedtime routine will begin in thirty minutes, followed by a ten minute heads up. Set a timer if need be.
A relaxing bedtime routine should last no longer than thirty minutes. The bedroom should be quiet and cozy. Allow your child to choose which pajamas to wear, and select a stuffed animal or special blanket to take to bed. Encourage your child to choose a bedtime story that will be read to him.
Some kids do well listening to soft, soothing music as they fall asleep. Other kids may request a dim light or a nightlight that offers some reassurance. Give your child a hug and say goodnight.
The following chart, Sleep Chart, is based on your child’s age with suggested bedtimes for kids to receive restful, healthy slumber and be ready for the next day. It is a guide to ensure your children are getting the rest that is needed. Pediatricians and doctors recommend these hours of sleep per night for a child’s physical, emotional and social health.
You may be surprised by how early the bedtimes are. Hopefully, this chart confirms that your child is getting a good night’s sleep so he can do his best in school every day. You know your child best. You know their needs. Some families will find this chart helpful as it justifies the exact times that the family does on a daily basis. For other families, the suggested times may be considered too rigid and may be concerned their kids may wake up in the wee hours of the morning. Use the chart as a guideline to best meet the needs of your children.
Your child will benefit from a daily routine and sleep schedule. The key is to establish healthy bedtimes early on. The quality and quantity of a children’s sleep affects the well-being of everyone in the household.
The Write Team
The Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat Newspaper
October 1, 2015