Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 23rd March 2024

4 Tips To Ensure Children Get The Best Night's Sleep

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Sleep issues among children are rising, with 38% reporting problems with getting to sleep, research shows. Now, a sleep expert explains how spicy foods can disturb kids' sleep, while parents should start early to combat the effects of daylight savings.

To help parents get their children to bed and ensure a good night's sleep before school, Explore Learning has teamed up with Chelsey Borson, a paediatric sleep consultant and founder of sleep coaching service Luna Leaps.

Chelsey has helped numerous parents improve their children's sleep habits and establish healthy bedtime routines. The effects of disturbed sleep can have a huge impact on school and learning.

Chelsey explains:
"With long-term effects including impaired immune function and mental health issues, a lack of sleep in children can have a profound impact on their school day and long-term health. Sleep deprivation can lead to difficulties with attention, memory, learning, and behaviour, making it harder for children to perform well academically. In the worst cases, chronic sleep deprivation in children has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, mental health issues, and impaired immune function."

To ensure a productive day at school, especially as the clocks change, parents should follow these top four tips:

1. Start early to tackle the clock change

Daylight saving time changes can impact kids' sleep patterns, affecting how ready they feel for school the following week. Take action the week before the clocks change to ensure your kids have a smooth transition. Chelsey suggests:

With the time change approaching, one top tip I would recommend is gradually adjusting the bedtime routine. By moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night leading up to the time change, parents can help their children's internal clocks adjust gradually and minimise the impact of losing an hour of sleep.

2. Watch out for secret bedtime saboteurs

While most parents understand screens impact sleep, certain drinks and foods can also have an unexpected impact. If your family is a fan of fizzy caffeinated drinks, heavy meals or anything spicy, this could have a knock-on effect on bedtime. Chelsey explains:

In addition to the usual factors that impact sleep in children, such as screen time and inconsistent routines, there are unexpected things that could be affecting children's sleep patterns. For instance, certain foods and beverages can interfere with sleep, especially if consumed close to bedtime. Sugary or caffeinated drinks, as well as heavy or spicy foods, can stimulate the body and make it difficult for children to fall asleep.

3. Stick to the ideal bedtime for their age

Understanding the optimal, age-appropriate bedtime for children is essential to ensure they're getting the rest they need to perform at school. As general guidance, Chelsey suggests:

For younger primary school-aged children, waking up around 7 am, a bedtime of around 8-9 pm would provide enough sleep. For secondary school-aged children, a bedtime between 9-11 pm would be more suitable.

For specific age ranges, Chelsey recommends:
5-6 years old: 7-8:30 pm
7-8 years old: 7:30-9 pm
9-10 years old: 8-9:30 pm
11-12 years old: 8:30-10 pm
13-14 years old: 9-10:30 pm
15-16 years old: 9:30-11 pm
(This information is guidance only)

Chelsey explains that individual sleep needs may vary, and it's important to consider factors like the child's individual sleep patterns and their overall well-being when determining their specific bedtime.

4. Keep the bedtime routine consistent

Sticking to a set routine is key, as it helps signal to children on a conscious and unconscious level that it's time to wind down and sleep.

Research shows that consistent bedtime routines play a critical role in promoting better sleep for children. Children with regular bedtime routines experience improved sleep quality and fewer sleep problems compared to those without consistent routines.

Establishing a predictable routine signals to children's bodies that it's time to sleep, making it easier for them to wind down and fall asleep.

Amandeep Sanghera, Head of Maths & English product at Explore Learning, comments:
"Sleep is the foundation for successful learning. It's not just about physical rest; it's about having time to recharge mentally, too. When children get a good night's sleep, their brains are gearing up for optimal cognitive function and emotional regulation during the school day. A good night's sleep paves the way for focused learning, creative ideas, and the problem-solving skills needed to thrive in the classroom."

To learn more about Explore Learning and how they help children achieve real progress through the joy of learning, click here