Now that it is the start of a new school year, parents are preparing themselves for the inevitable back-to-school rush. But amid the dash for backpacks, books and last-minute haircuts, children’s sleep routines must also be high on the agenda if parents want to start kids off on the right foot.
University of South Australia researcher and sleep expert Dr Alex Agostini, says a good sleep routine is important for children’s emotional, physical and mental health, especially after school holidays.
“There are lots of positives that come with the school holidays, there are fewer time pressures, kids get to have a well-earned break from school and families spend more time together, but hand-in-hand with the holidays also comes irregular sleep, which can have an impact on children’s behaviours and abilities to operate well at school,” Dr Agostini says.
“Staying up late, watching TV and playing on computers, iPads or phones, are all common holiday activities, but as we enter a new school term, it’s time to initiate better sleep routines.”
The light from the screens on electronic devices is not conducive to sleep and they don’t have a set “end time” like a typical television show would, which means that children are encouraged to keep playing games or messaging friends on them. Putting away these devices an hour or more before bed time is one way to encourage healthy sleep.
Changing behaviours can be hard however, persistence is key. Parents and carers should remember that by establishing positive sleep routines, they’re setting their kids up for success.