*Help Your Kids Sleep Tight Before School Starts is a guest post. If you are interested in writing for A Modern Mom’s Life, please visit my Guest Posting page.*
During the summer, it’s easy to forget how hard youngsters have it these days. They spend upwards of seven hours a day in school, and that’s followed by sports practice, club meetings, and two hours of homework to cap it all off. Oh, and don’t forget about all the chores around the house. If they’re going to get it all done every day, five days a week, that takes energy, and energy requires a good night’s rest.
Here’s how you can help your kids sleep tight so they will wake up refreshed and ready to go.
Clear Out Clutter
You’re not nagging when you tell your kid to clean up. A messy room is very distracting, increases stress levels, and keeps them from being able to relax and fall asleep. There are more than enough ways to help them get organized, says a writer with Good Housekeeping. First, let your kid give you a tour of the room so you can see things from their perspective, then give them permission to get rid of things they don’t want anymore.
Ban Electronic Devices
If your kids stay up all hours of the night and wake up groggy every morning, screens are likely the culprit. According to a neuroscientist speaking to Scientific American, the blue light emanating from the screens of smartphones, tablets, and laptops reduces levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, thus disturbing your kids’ circadian rhythms. It’s possible to dial down this effect by installing a blue light filter on the devices. The most efficient solution is to clear the room of screens before bedtime.
There’s more to a good night’s rest than just getting rid of things. You may want to invest in a white noise machine, especially if you live in a noisy neighborhood. These devices drown out jarring noises that jolt you awake at night by emitting a sound that’s audible across all frequencies and also mask slamming doors and barking dogs. Black-out blinds, on the other hand, keep stray rays of light from the moon, or passing headlights, from penetrating the window and disturbing your kids while they’re just heading off to dreamland.
Have a Bedtime Snack
The key ingredient is tryptophan, which is converted into melatonin and serotonin, two hormones associated with sleep and relaxation. Turkey is rich in this amino acid — which is why so many people doze off after Thanksgiving dinner — but there are even better sources out there such as egg whites, soybeans, low-fat cheese, chicken, and seeds. For those who crave something sweet, bananas, oranges, and pineapples have been linked to increased levels of melatonin as well.
Shower in the Evening
You may think it’s wonderful to take a shower in the morning to start the day off refreshed. You’re not wrong, but consider the benefits of doing so before you go to bed. For one thing, you get in the sheets nice and clean, and it’s easier to fall asleep. The shower itself warms you up, but the magic happens as your body cools down, triggering a host of physiological changes, including melatonin production, that trigger sleep.
Wake Up on Weekends
Everybody loves a good lie-in, but that throws your kid off their natural circadian rhythm and spoils their sleep for the rest of the week. According to Sleep.org, this leads to “social jet lag,” or a mismatch between when you feel tired and when you’re supposed to go to bed to wake up in time for school or work. That can have dire consequences, including an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An extra one hour of shuteye is the accepted limit for Saturdays and Sundays.
You’re sure to face resistance when you begin enforcing some of these measures, but a little persistence will pay off. Eventually, your kids will appreciate what you’ve done when they find they have more energy during the day, so stick to your guns.
Jenny Wise created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids.
My girls don’t get screens in their rooms, and we always try to bath and shower at night. It helps to stick to a regular routine as well. What do you do to help your kids sleep tight? The best part about getting the girls to bed routinely is that I can then get to bed at a good time and (hopefully) get my own full 8 hours!