Kids who sleep well learn well: Tips for encouraging healthy slumber

Have bedtime routines slipped over the summer? Here’s how to get your kids back on track before the new school year.
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It’s been a long summer of unstructured days, late nights and lazy mornings for many Canadian families. With a return to reading, writing and arithmetic just around the corner, it’s time to get back on the academic track before the first day of school—and this means more than shopping for school supplies. 

To help kids start the school year strong, it’s important to ensure that they’re getting a good night’s sleep. Studies show that children and teens who clock enough zzz’s pay more attention in class and demonstrate better behaviour, learning and memory, according to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. What’s more, adequate, restful sleep can also improve children’s physical health and emotional wellbeing. In contrast, sleep-deprived kiddos may find it harder to concentrate for long periods of time and are more likely to struggle with verbal creativity, problem-solving and emotional regulation.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends nine to 11 hours of shut-eye a night for five- to 13-year-olds, and eight to 10 hours for 14- to 17-year-olds. But according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in four children aren’t getting enough sleep, and one in three struggle to fall or stay asleep.

Fortunately, there are many ways to help kids get the sleep they need to succeed in school. Read on for some tips you can use to help your kids start the school year on track 

Make sleep a back-to-school priority

To break your children’s addiction to late nights, begin scaling back their bedtime and wake-up time a couple of weeks before the first day of school. Move bedtime back in 10 to 15-minute increments until the desired times are reached. Consistent lights out and rise and shine times are two hallmarks of a healthy sleep routine, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Eliminate electronics before bedtime

Screen time rules often become lax in the summer. Get back on track before September. Turn off the TV and dock those devices—including tablets, video games and phones—at least an hour before bedtime in a location outside of the bedroom. The blue light from screens keeps kids’ brains stimulated and it also inhibits melatonin production, which can make it more difficult to nod off. 

 A bedtime routine is for all ages

After a summer spent running around the backyard in bare feet, kids might bristle at the notion of a bath before bed, but now is the time to reintroduce those calming rituals. Dim lights, a soothing bath and a bedtime story (or, for teens, mellow music or reading in bed), can constitute a routine that tells the mind and body it’s time for sleep. Some parents even swear by a sound machine as a tool that helps children drift off to sleep and stay that way. 

Sleep essentials for academic success

Forget the sleeping bags and uncomfortable (but memorable) camping trips of summer and take a good look at your child’s sleep sanctuary. Everyone shops for new clothes and shoes for September, but consider new pillows or bedding as a back-to-school essential, too. 

There’s a reason the National Sleep Foundation includes using a supportive and comfortable mattress and pillow as its top sleep support tip, and a trusted retailer like Sleep Country Canada can get your little student well rested and ready for school with everything from new sheets and a cozy duvet, to the best mattress or pillow to help them get their best sleep. 

To learn more about sleep essentials for back to school, visit Sleep Country Canada’s Back to School Shop and ensure your child is set up for success, beginning with a good night’s sleep.

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