School Readiness at Home

School Readiness Programme: I have a good bedtime routine

- 19th May 2020

Sleep and rest is vital for all children, it is the primary activity of the brain during early development. Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps each child achieve their full potential, as it directly impacts on their mental and physical development.

Research shows that it takes 20 minutes to fall into a deep sleep and then the optimum time for a child to rest and feel refreshed is another 20 minutes.

When a child is sleep deprived they may have difficulty in remembering things as memory consolidation takes place when sleeping. This will affect their ability to learn, and will reduce levels of concentration.

The immune system may be less effective and in severe cases a child’s growth can be affected.

A child may struggle to make and retain friendships as their mood will also be affected by poor or insufficient sleep.

Daytime sleep will help a child sleep at night. Lack of daytime sleep will cause the child to become over tired and stressed. When the brain is stressed, it releases cortisol which interferes with our ability to relax and blocks the release of melatonin. An over tired child will be more difficult to settle and less likely to have a good night’s sleep.

How can you help your child get a goodnight sleep?

By the time your child is starting school they should be sleeping through the night and no longer require a nap during the day. Children need between 10-11 hours sleep a night at this age.

Every child is different, some may have always been good sleepers, others may fidget or even speak in their sleep. However, there are some key actions you can put in place to help bedtime to become a breeze:

  • Create a routine and stick to it – even on the weekends!
    Children respond well to structure and like to know what is coming. So, if you set a time for them to go to bed and get up in the morning, try to stick to this everyday, including the weekends to avoid struggles every Sunday evening and Monday morning.
  • Help them to relax before sleep.
    Make sure your child does not have any screen time any later that 30 minutes before bed. Instead get them used to putting on their own pyjamas and brushing their teeth before bed. Then, settle together with dimmed lighting for a short story together before lights out and sleep.
  • Quality time together.
    The above routine of relaxation should help to calm your child before sleep after an exciting day. However, bedtime is also a great opportunity to ask your child if everything is alright, especially if they have just started school. By expressing any worries or fears with you will help them to have a better nights sleep if they have been able to share and eliminate any anxieties they were feeling.

Avoid certain foods.

Your little ones should not be consuming caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee or sports drinks at this age. You should also avoid sugary foods in the evening, including chocolate, fizzy drinks or sweets as these is all hinder your child’s sleep.

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