How to Stick to a Solid Sleep Routine While School’s Out
The longest spring break ever has many kids straying from their regular sleep schedules and that can throw everyone off at home. Inconsistent and lack of sleep, studies show, can have health and learning implications like hyperactivity and irritability. And let's face it, parents need their downtime now more than ever. So how do you get them back on track?
First, let's recap how much sleep your kiddo needs. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends:
- Ages 4–12 months: 12–16 hours (including naps)
- Ages 1–2 years: 11–14 hours (including naps)
- Ages 3–5 years: 10–13 hours (including naps)
- Ages 6–12 years: 9–12 hours
- Ages 13–18 years: 8–10 hours
Get them moving. With kids out of school, and on lockdown, it can be hard to schedule in some movement throughout the day. There are so many online workouts for kids, like yoga (Cosmic Kids Yoga is super fun for young kids) and dance to start their day. There's still the option to get outside even if that means your front or backyard. Go for walks together, bike rides, turn on the sprinkler, play soccer out front as part of your homeschooling routine to keep their circadian rhythm (internal clock) regulated.
Roll back in 15-minute intervals. These days it can be easy to let loose on schedules but kids who stick to consistent wake and bedtimes sleep better. If your kiddo has started to go to bed later than you'd like, try setting their bedtime 15 minutes earlier (vs. trying to roll back an hour) each day until they're back on track. Weekends don't really feel like weekends anymore but the idea is to keep every day the same.
Turn out the screen lights. Screen time rules are also on lockdown, we get it. But one rule still applies and that's turning off devices and TV an hour before bedtime. Studies show that the blue light on cell phones, tablets, laptops can confuse our bodies into thinking it's still light outside, making it harder to fall asleep.
Healthy meals make a difference. Keeping their eating schedule consistent also helps regulate their internal clocks. If you're feeling uninspired in the kitchen, here are vegetarian recipes for kids, healthy soups for kids, and plant-based snacks. Experts say to avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime (that includes ice cream) and big meals right before bedtime, which can interrupt their sleep patterns.
Create quiet time and space. Schedule in some cleanup time before you kick off your bedtime routine to create a soothing sleep environment for everyone. Baths, bedtime stories, and other relaxing activities can help kids prepare for bed. White noise machines or a fan can also help lull your kids to sleep by creating a rhythmic sound.Stay firm and prepared! Kids are really good at convincing us that they need something (anything!) before they hit the hay. Keep a glass of water by their bedside, serve up a light and healthy bedtime snack, and make sure they go to the bathroom before you even start your routine so you can stick to their original bedtime, excuse free!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.