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How to start a good sleep routine before school starts in September
In a few weeks kids will be returning to school—which means that alarm clocks will be set a lot earlier than the lazy days of summer.
As both a teacher and a mother of three, Monica Cheam knows how important it is to establish a good sleep routine before school starts up again.
“During the year we try to go to bed at 9:30 (p.m.)” she says.
But she sheepishly admits the Cheam family doesn’t maintain any particular bedtime during the summer, sometimes falling asleep as late as 11:30—which is pretty late for her three daughters who are 10, eight and five years old.
“This week we’ve tried to get back into our routine by going to camps, going to dance activities, so we’re trying to get back to the normal 9 o’clock routine.”
Cheam says that tiring the girls out helps them get to bed a little earlier each night, and sleep experts say that adjusting the kids’ bedtimes gradually is a good way to approach it.
According to the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S., children age three to five, should get between 10 and 13 hours of sleep each night. Kids between the ages of six to 13 need about nine to 11 hours of sleep and teens should get about eight to 10 hours of sleep.
Experts recommend not letting school-age kids have naps during the day so they’re tired in the evening. It’s also important to avoid caffeine and high intensity sugars close to bedtime.
Creating a “wind-down” routine also helps, whether that’s reading a story before bed or a having a warm bath.
It can take about two weeks to establish a new circadian cycle.
Cheam, who teaches grades four and five, says she sees the effects that lack of sleep can have on students.
“They're all lying with their heads on their desks and although they are there, they really have to be present, they have to be attentive,” she says. “So if they’re sleepy, and they can’t give their 100 per cent, then they can’t be at their best.”