Long Summer days are meant for family adventures, and often mean a more relaxed daily routine unrestricted by homework and the early morning rush to school. If the Summer has created space for a more relaxed sleeping routine in your home, then don’t worry! We have the tips you need to restore well-loved bedtime routines that help cultivate a better sleep schedule for your little ones, right in time for school!
For kids and adults, sleep quality isn’t just about length but about consistency. One crucial step to supporting optimal development in children is ensuring rest, and establishing similar sleep and waking times each day (whether it’s a school day or weekend!) is key. This approach is endorsed by sleep experts such as Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist known as “the Sleep Doctor”, who recommends regular wake-up times, even on holidays and weekends.
Prepare a calming routine before bed to help your child unwind. Dim the lights, turn down the music and have a light-hearted chat with your kid to signal the end of the day. It is important to foster this routine together with your kids.
- Introduce consistent wake and sleep times for optimal sleep
We know how easy it is to fall into the trap of scrolling through our phones before bed (who else has found themselves accidentally watching TikTok videos until lights out). Setting a good example for our kids is a great way to get the whole family to develop healthy and productive relationships with screens before bed.
We recommend simple habits such as putting devices out of sight at least one hour before bedtime, as melatonin – often referred as the sleep hormone – can be affected by the blue light emitted from screens. According to a study by Dr. D. Akacem and colleagues at the Sleep and Development Laboratory, University of Colorado Boulder, 1 hour of bright light exposure before bed time suppresses melatonin by around 88%.
- Restrict screen use before bed (that goes for us adults too!)
While screens can have a productive role to play in our homes, certain activities such as playing computer games or watching films may have adverse effects at bedtime. Developing brains are extra sensitive to stimuli, and overstimulation from screen time can make it difficult for tired children to get the rest they need to absorb all of the new, wonderful experiences you work so hard to create for them during the day.
If your child feels scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you can praise and reward them whenever they have been brave. A stuffed toy or animal to keep them company at night or an item that smells of a parent can provide a calming scent to help soothe light sleepers who wake during the night.
Another tip is to place a picture of you or other loved ones on bedside tables, to help provide comfort and reassurance to children as they fall (back) to sleep.
- Create a safe and reassuring environment for your child at night
Did you know that it can take upto 12 hours to eliminate the caffeine you consume from your morning cup of coffee? As a parent, you can help your child eliminate caffeine from their diet by simply separating your snack cupboard into morning and afternoon treats. This makes it easy for whoever is in charge of the kids to grab time-appropriate snacks, without having to worry about whether they are inadvertently causing sleep issues!
According to research by Dr. Glyn Howatson, tart cherry juice can raise natural melatonin that helps improve sleep quality and duration. Try a few drops of natural juice, which can be diluted with water, an hour before bedtime to help regulate sleep naturally.
- Limit caffeine-rich snacking in the afternoons and evenings
It can be overwhelming as a parent to stay on top of everything. Daily routines, especially at bedtime, can help you manage your day (cue less stress for you!) while helping children develop healthy habits. Good bedtime routines are predictable and well-planned (there is no reason why you can’t involve older children in carrying out certain pre-bedtime tasks!) - and most parents agree that they help families navigate tasks more easily, freeing up space for quality bonding time. At night, routines help kids wind down and prepare for bedtime, and can be initiated by activities such as playing an audio story or listening to music after bath time.
Using a variety of bedtime stories not only expands their general knowledge but also improves their literacy. Picture books can help spark the imagination, but there are plenty of audiobooks for kids that can invoke visual imagery and prepare them for dreams to come. Similarly, listening to soothing music before bedtime not only calms kids down, but also provides a host of developmental benefits. The aim is to keep the atmosphere as quiet and calm as possible.
We love how easy it is to incorporate Jooki as part of kids’ bedtime routines, such as by playing soothing music or a bedtime story. It won't affect your kid's natural melatonin production – as our screen-free player doesn’t emit harmful blue light. Why not try reserving one of your tokens or figurines for bedtime rituals that you and your kids will love?
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- Establish a regular and predictable bedtime routine