We’re getting back to school and re-establishing healthy sleep and wake habits, helps brain function.  You can help yourself and your children by knowing that sleep hygiene matters. Here are some helpful tips from Dr. Mary Fristad and The American Sleep Association. With some of my own observations thrown in:).

GET TO SLEEP TIPS

1. Maintain a regular sleep routine

Go to bed at the same time. Even if you alter your patterns on weekends, make five nights a week one schedule and two nights a week another, but do not have a different sleep pattern every night. Wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week.

Here is a printable sleep log:

2. Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 10-15 minutes

If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired. If you try reading or listening to music and it does not calm your mind, consider cleaning or organizing, when you can’t fall asleep, the motor activity fatigues you, helps your brain calm down and helps you back to sleep.

3. Don’t watch TV, keep your phone on all night next to you or work on the computer when you cannot sleep, these are alerting activities

Understand the difference between alerting and calming activities. Alerting sources include media, late night exercise and caffeine. The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon. Remember that soda and tea contain caffeine as well. Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep as well.

4. Exercise regularly

Exercise before 2 pm every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep. Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.

5. Have a quiet, comfortable bedroom

Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer. Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background ‘white noise’ like a fan is OK. If your pets awaken you, keep them outside the bedroom. Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off bright lights. If you are a ‘clock watcher’ at night, hide the clock.

6. Have a comfortable consistent pre-bedtime routine

45 minutes before it is time to sleep, dim the lights, turn off the TV or electronic and allow your natural melatonin to rise so that your body knows that it is time to sleep. For your pre-sleep routine consider a series of consistent habits like reading, taking warm baths, listening to soft music and the like. When you have a consistent habit in a specific order your body learns when it is time to sleep.

WAKE-UP TIPS

Most children need about 45 minutes for their early morning routine. Rushing increases stress hormones, so we like a routine that is calm, slow and well-organized.

1. Create a “soft entry” into the morning, give your kids a gentle verbal reminder or a little touch on the shoulder that says, “We’re getting up in ten minutes.”

2. Have all your own tasks completed before you get the kids up, they need a mom or dad to gently guide them through the early morning routine.

3. Create a calm environment with soft music.

4. Have a hearty breakfast ready and raring to go! My fav thing is to serve dinner for breakfast. That way the kids are sure to get the protein (FREE PRINTABLE) they need to learn all day.

5. Make lunches, put out tomorrow’s outfit and leave packed back-packs at the door the night before.

You got it! Preparation and planning will help your sleep and wake routines get back on track!

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