Back to School, Back to Routine
Written for Kids & Company by Certified WeeSleep Pediatric Sleep Consultants, Natalie Moran & Amber Monette
Often, during the summer months, our routines go out the window. The sun falls later, bedtime naturally pushes later, and sleep is often last on our minds. Summer is the best time to relax and be flexible with your little one’s sleep! With school fast approaching, it is important that we start to get our little ones back into a good routine so they (and we) can function to the best of their ability.
Why is sleep so important for children?
Our bodies need sleep to function, it is such an important part of our overall health. While we sleep our bodies do all the physical and chemical repairs that are required. Children do their growing while they sleep. Sleep directly impacts their mood, cognitive ability, vocabulary, attention, memory, and motor skills. Children who get the recommended amount of sleep have been shown to consistently perform better in school.
How much sleep do our little ones need?
Our circadian rhythm is based on a 24-hr cycle. As children get older their sleep cycles lengthen and they can have more consolidated sleep. As they learn to consolidate their sleep more, they need fewer hours of sleep. The number of hours of sleep needed is directly impacted by their age. Below is the Canadian Paediatric Society’s recommended guide for sleep per age, including naps on a 24hr cycle.
Newborn–2 months: 16–18hrs
2–6 months: 14–16hrs
6 months–1 year: 14hrs
1–3 years: 10-13hrs
3–5 years: 10 -12hrs
5–10 years: 10-12hrs
6–13 years: 9-11hrs
14–18 years: 8-10hrs
Six Ways to Improve Your Child’s Sleep
- Have a bedtime routine happen at the same time every night (even weekends). This should last 30-40mins. Offering a 15- and 5-minute heads-up will often help smooth the transition into a bedtime routine.
- Shut off all screens at least 1.5 hours prior to bedtime. The light from screens can prevent natural melatonin release, which helps our bodies get ready for sleep.
- Give them a blanket or stuffy to sleep with for comfort.
- Set the room temperature on the cooler side for sleep, around 17-21 degrees Celsius.
- Limit snacks and drinks before bedtime. No sugary treats before bed!
- Give your child some control over their bedtime routine, let them choose their PJs and/or books.
Benefits of a good bedtime routine
Having your child on a good, consistent routine can go a long way. Infants and toddlers especially, love to be able to predict what comes next. If they are on a consistent schedule, they can do just that! Predicting what comes next allows them to be comfortable with their bedtime routine and it's something they look forward to. If it’s different every day, they lose the ability to anticipate what comes next, and often, will fight bedtime as a result. Having the routine at the same time each day helps their body prepare for sleep, which helps them fall asleep easily. Below we have offered you an example of what a typical bedtime routine looks like:
Bedtime routine: (30–40mins)
- Bath/Brush Teeth
- Put the child in bed while they are still awake
- Sound machine is on and lights out
Sleep directly impacts your child’s immune system
Back to school typically means children (and you) have increased exposure to germs. This holds especially true during a global pandemic. It is important that families maintain a healthy immune system, and with sleep being a fundamental aspect of health, we shift our focus. Have you ever noticed after a few long restless nights, that you’ve suddenly got the sniffles? We’ve been there. Having a great night's sleep helps protect you from any infectious diseases that you may be exposed to. When you get the appropriate amount of sleep your body can fight off virus' much better than when you are overtired.
Make bedtime fun for everyone
If bedtime is done befittingly, it can be something you look forward to each and every night as well as a great one-on-one bonding time for you and your little ones. Giving them that warning so they know what’s coming next, and keeping their routine predictable will help them be more comfortable with bedtime making it more enjoyable for everyone! It helps them fall asleep faster as they are more relaxed and everyone in the house gets a more restful night of sleep!
Truly yours, Your Certified WeeSleep Pediatric Sleep Consultants,
Natalie Moran & Amber Monette