September marks the start of the new school year for many pupils across the country, after months of disruption unleashed by coronavirus saw classrooms closed and studying from home become the norm instead.
But threatening students’ efforts to get back to the books is a sleep crisis caused by Covid-19, according to new research which has revealed the detrimental impact the pandemic has had on children’s bedtime routines.
The survey carried out by sleep organisations The Sleep Charity, The Sleep Council and Sleepstation found that 70 per cent of children are now going to sleep later than usual, and 57 per cent are waking up later than usual.
So, with that in mind, here are some top tips for getting kids back into their normal bedtime routines:
1) Gradually bring bedtime forward
Parents can help restore normality to their children’s sleep routine by gradually making bedtime earlier.
Pulling bedtime forward gradually is likely to be less disruptive than making an abrupt change to the timings.
Vicki Dawson, CEO of The Sleep Charity, said: “If bedtime has got later and later, you need to start to gradually move your child’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes every three nights.”
2) Introduce a ban on screentime before bed
Artificial blue light from electronic devices can play havoc with the body’s circadian rhythm by tricking us into thinking it is daytime just as we are readying to try and sleep.
So by putting a ban on screens a short while before bed, parents can help their children’s bodies wind down and ease into a good night of rest.
Ms Dawson said: “Have them avoid screen activities an hour before bedtime as this can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin from being created.”
3) Create the right environment
Parents can help their children sleep better by ensuring the latter associate their bedrooms with comfort, safety and relaxation.
This involves everything from the details of decoration and furniture to regulating the room temperature to maintain comfort.
Jonathan Warren, director at Time4Sleep, said: “By allowing your child to have a say when it comes to various aspects of their bedroom decor you can ensure that they enjoy being in their room and find it to be a comforting space.
“Encourage them to choose their own bed that they’ll look forward to climbing into at the end of the day.”
Ms Dawson meanwhile recommended a room temperature of about 18C is optimum for sleeping.
4) Stick to a routine
Children are likely to be more productive at school if their body clock is regulated by a consistent wake up time.
Ms Dawson said: “Open the curtains straight away, and if possible go outside for half an hour to help to reset your child’s body clock.
“Children thrive on routine, they can also meet their full potential more easily when they have had a good night’s sleep.
“When children become sleep deprived, it can lead them to being hyperactive and tearful and they can find it difficult to concentrate in school.”