Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Routine In the Holidays
It’s very tempting to relax the rules and let kids stay up much later than normal during the holidays. Staying up late occasionally is fine, particularly on special occasions like New Year’s Eve, but if you break the routine completely, it will be harder for everyone to adapt when school goes back.
According to the National Sleep Foundation primary aged kids need 9 -11 hours of sleep per night, and secondary students need 8 – 10 hours. Without adequate sleep kids will be grumpy and lethargic, and the first weeks back at school will be more difficult than they should be.
These tips will help you maintain a healthy sleep routine over the summer break.
When visiting friends and family over the holidays, it’s easier to stick to a routine when you plan ahead. Decide before you arrive at someone’s house how long you want to stay. Make sure there’s somewhere quiet for younger kids to lie down if celebrations are going to extend past their normal bedtime. Take a blanket or pillow from home to help children relax in an unfamiliar place. Bring your own healthy snacks in place of sugary treats so kids aren’t buzzing with sugar when it’s time to sleep.
One of the easiest ways to make sure kids don’t stay up too late in the holidays is by wearing them out during the day. Fun summer activities include swimming, hiking and rock-climbing. Shooting hoops at the local park or going for a walk around the neighbourhood are fun too. Every day of the holidays doesn’t have to be packed with activities, but regular healthy exercise will ensure kids get enough sleep.
Even with adequate sleep, kids can become worn out over the holidays due to all the excitement and novelty, especially when you’re travelling. If your child is showing signs of tiredness, encourage them to take a nap during the day. After lunch is usually a good time for a siesta. This will help them refresh and recharge but be careful not to let them nap for too long or they might struggle to sleep at bedtime.
To help children wind down and get ready for bed, it’s a good idea to have a calming routine which begins about an hour before lights out. This should be screen-free time to reduce sensory overload. For younger kids, taking a bath and reading a story together before bed will help them relax. Introduce wind-down for older kids by dimming the lights and play relaxing music in preparation for sleep. The holidays are a good time to start a wind down routine.
Parents are likely to encounter some resistance during the holidays when it comes to sticking to the normal bedtime routine, particularly from older kids. It’s best not to escalate tensions at night as this will make the situation worse. If your child refuses to go to bed when you ask, wait until morning to calmly talk things over. Kids will be more amenable to sticking to the routine if they’re allowed to stay up later on occasions or if you extend bedtime a little bit until the final week of the holidays.
A healthy sleep routine will help kids enjoy the holidays and make the transition back to school easier.