When school starts again, bedtimes must also start again. And with just under a week to go, many parents are looking to Google for advice on how to fix their children’s sleep cycle.
For this guide, Dr Sophie Bostock, the resident sleep expert at Bensons for Beds, has shared with us her top tips for getting households back into their routines.
1. Transition the household back into the school routine now
Over the next few days, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier until you hit school wake-up time, and try and stick with it at the weekend. Doing this is especially important for teenagers, who are natural night owls.
If you or they are struggling to get going in the morning, get plenty of bright light, eat some breakfast and go for a short walk; light, food and movement all send a wake-up call to the brain.
2. Get your worries out in the open, but not right before bed
The process of writing down what is worrying you can be therapeutic. Set aside 20 minutes in the afternoon or early evening to brainstorm what’s been keeping you awake. You can try this with older kids, too.
If it’s in your control, then make an action plan to do something to address it – so, for example, if you’ve lost track of the school uniform, great, that’s something you can resolve. If it’s not in your control, acknowledge the worry, but let it go. Try to avoid conversations about worries before bed – instead, focus on what made you happy that day or things you’re looking forward to in the future.
3. If you’re a bit stressed, winding down before you get into bed becomes even more important
Research shows that kids who have a set bedtime routine, when you do the same things in the same order – such as bath, book, cuddle, lights out – tend to have more and better quality sleep than those without a set routine. Predictability and familiarity will help to calm the anxious mind and improve your readiness for sleep. This works for adults, as well as their kids!
4. Try the five-finger breathing exercise to calm the mind
If you would like a shortcut to easing worries when you’re getting into bed, the five-finger breathing technique is a great way to slow the breath, calm the heart rate, and focus the mind using a gentle touch.
During the exercise, focus on breathing in through the nose, as if you’re smelling a beautiful rose, and sighing out through the mouth.
Spread out the fingers of 1 hand like a starfish.
Take the index finger of the other hand and rest it at the base of the thumb. As you trace up towards the tip of the thumb, breathe in, pause as you round the top, and then breathe out slowly as you trace to the base of the finger.
Take another deep breath in through the nose as you slide up, pause, and breathe all the way out as you slide down.
Breathe in, pause, and breathe all the way out.
Breathe in and out.
And notice how much calmer you feel.
For more expert insights on how to get better sleep, visit the Bensons blog here.
Read more health guides and features here.