With the new school year starting next week there have been a lot of articles online and in the press about how to get kids back into a regular school night routine and in bed at a reasonable time.
The general advice is to inch bedtime forward by a quarter of an hour each night but given that most children will have been cavorting around all evening during the summer that still runs the risk of leaving them sleep-deprived. Even a nine year old needs 10 hours at night according to the NHS website and 14 year olds 9 hours. According to a 2008 government report compiled by Professor Tanya Byron, Safer Children in a Digital World, 65% of young children don’t get enough sleep
The more important issue, it seems to me is what they do once they’re actually in their rooms and that’s tougher nut to crack. Our kids are all way beyond school age now but I remember our youngest in particular watching TV for far longer than he should have done – maybe an explanation as to why he’s still so nocturnal in his habits. (Bed about 4 or 5am, up about 12-1, when he can get away with it. Fortunately he’s a photographer)
I wonder if the more effective solution wouldn’t introduce a family-wide ban on electronic devices from this weekend – or at least try to limit them. And that means – yes – parents too. So no TVs or tablets in bedrooms for anyone. No computers or phones either, ideally, but that’s tricky in households with text-crazy teens.
Would it be better from a sleep point of view if kids did their homework in a living room rather than a bedroom? Difficult when space is tight and hard-pressed parents are struggling to get other children to bed – or even snatch some time on their own.
It’s certainly a good idea to discuss the issue as a family, explain the reason for your concern (that kids will find it hard to wake up and feel sleepy at school) and make them part of the decision-making process.
The ideal solution of course, is to start good habits young and introduce firm rules about when devices can or can’t be used. And set a good example ourselves. Even a 5 year old is capable of pointing out the inconsistency of what they’re being asked to do and how mum and dad behave . . .
Here are a few other links you might find useful:
Break your holiday sleep cycle: nine top tips to get back into your usual routine – Daily Mirror
Parents reading this – what’s your solution to this problem?