The school holidays are just a week away. Whether you look at the holidays as six weeks of fun or six weeks of hell, it does change family routines including the big one: SLEEP!
During the summer holidays, children’s bedtimes often shift to later and as a result, their waking up times may also shift. This can have an impact on family life as parents still need to make work commitments which don’t change. These changes can cause undue stress. The impact of a
change to someone’s sleep routine affects their behaviour. For children, this could mean parents dealing with negative changes in behaviour. For adults, it can mean that their sleep patterns change and they get less sleep which could affect their moods.
When we are tired we can suffer from brain fog, an inability for higher ordered thinking, irritability and physical lethargy. Symptoms are often similar to those who are drunk. We can be impulsive and our thinking is impaired. Never underestimate what a lack of sleep can do to you physically and mentally.
So what can be done about it? Developing healthy sleep habits and making sleep a priority can go a long way in improving your overall sleep quality and well-being.
Stimulation will be different:
Inevitably night times will be later during the summer holidays. However, it is likely that your kids won’t be as stimulated during the day as they would be at school unless they are booked into clubs. What that means is that they may need less sleep so they can afford an extra half an hour in bed in the mornings.
The importance of melatonin:
It is always worth trying to meet them in the middle if you can. When you go to wake them up then stick with the normal routine of daylight. Open the curtains and get normal daylight into the room. Exposure to sunlight suppresses the hormone melatonin which can affect their circadian rhythms. It will also help with their bedtime later that day.
Avoid napping or limit it:
If you're struggling with sleep, avoid daytime napping or limit it to a short power nap (around 20 minutes) early in the afternoon. Longer or late-day naps can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.
Limit exposure to screens:
The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your sleep. Avoid using screens (phones, tablets, laptops, TVs) for at least an hour before bed. If necessary, use blue light filters or put your phones and tablets on night mode.
Create a sleep-friendly environment. Make their bedroom conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Try eye masks, or white noise machines if necessary. Ensure that your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Also, think about their favourite music when waking up and going to bed and other things where you are creating a solid sleep environment.
It is still worth trying to get them to calm down at least half an hour before bed so they are ready for settling - whatever age they are.