Oh, sleep. So many of us struggle with this one – getting our kids to bed, getting them up, getting them back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Now that we’re back to school, sleep is can easily fall by the wayside: there’s homework, after school activities, and friends. But the thing is, this is the critical time to get sleep on track. I think we all know how much harder life is when we haven’t slept enough, and it’s no different for little people.
Sleep makes it all better
“If we don’t set them up when it comes to good sleep, we’re sending them off on the wrong foot to start with,” says Julie Miller, sleep consultant and founder of Mountain Dreams. “Sleep debt can be the root of so many things: kids on a short fuse, crankiness, waking up fussy. If you have really tough mornings, you might need to address how much your child is sleeping.”
Decision-making, patience, memory, and impulse control all suffer when kids don’t get enough sleep. I nearly put a dishwasher tab in the coffee machine the other morning, so it takes no great leap for me to see how a lack of sleep can make school so much harder.
Tips for making sleep easier
Julie has some great tips for getting your family sleep situation on track this autumn:
- Keep a consistent bedtime routine, it helps their body understand it’s time for sleep
- Keep the bedroom dark and quiet
- Turn off the electronics well before bedtime – the LED light makes it hard for our bodies to go to sleep
- Get kids active during the day
- Try not to schedule after school activities into bedtime
How much sleep do kids need? Children between five and ten years old need 10-11 hours of sleep, while older children should aim for 9-10 hours a night.
As we head into the season of Thanksgiving and Halloween, which tend to be full of late nights, be mindful of how much sleep is happening. “When you know a late night is coming up, plan for it. Skip gymnastics or soccer that week and make sure they build up a good amount of sleep beforehand,” Julia explains. “It’s all about knowing your child – my son is very sensitive to lack of sleep, if bedtime is out by 15 minutes, I know about it!”
This post is sponsored by Mountain Dreams. Mountain Dreams are experts in their field, well respected with a strong reputation for success. We offer nurturing support through parent education, professional group workshops, sleep consultations and individual support plans. We have a caring team of highly skilled, approachable professionals who have expertise in supporting infants, children, youth and parents. In addition, our team offers a wide range of training opportunities for professionals and parents wishing to understand more about how to best support children, youth, families and adults towards realizing their fullest potential.
Erin McGann is the former Managing Editor for Vancouver Mom and Toronto Mom Now. She drinks just a bit too much coffee, is a bit obsessed about sourcing local food, plays the cello moderately well, spends too much time on Twitter, keeps honeybees on a rooftop, and has a thing for single-malt whisky. Erin is working on a novel set in turn-of-the-century Vancouver, which her husband, son and dog have to hear about all the time, and also blogs at Erin at Large.