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Sleep Expert Shares Tips to Help Kids Transition Back to School Routines

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When school starts again, bedtimes must also start again. And with just under a week to go, many parents are looking to Google for advice on how to fix their children’s sleep cycle

Resident sleep expert Dr Sophie Bostock at Bensons for Beds shares her top tips for getting households back into their routines. 

Transition the household back into the school routine now

Over the next few days, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier until you hit school wake-up time, and try and stick with it at the weekend. This is especially important for teenagers, who are natural night owls.

If you or they struggle to get going in the morning, get plenty of bright light, eat breakfast and go for a short walk; light, food and movement all send a wake-up call to the brain.

Get your worries out in the open, but not right before bed

The process of writing down what is worrying you can be therapeutic. Set aside 20 minutes in the afternoon or early evening to brainstorm what’s kept you awake. You can try this with older kids, too. If it’s in your control, then make an action plan to do something to address it – so, for example, if you’ve lost track of the school uniform, great, that’s something you can resolve.

If it’s not in your control, acknowledge the worry, but let it go. Avoid conversations about worries before bed – instead, focus on what made you happy that day or things you’re looking forward to in the future.

If you’re a bit stressed, winding down before you get into bed becomes even more important

Research shows that kids with a set bedtime routine when you do the same things in the same order – such as bath, book, cuddle, lights out – tend to have more and better quality sleep than those without a set routine. Predictability and familiarity will help to calm the anxious mind and improve your readiness for sleep. This works for adults, as well as their kids!

Try the five-finger breathing exercise to calm the mind

If you would like a shortcut to easing worries when you’re getting into bed, the five-finger breathing technique is a great way to slow the breath, calm the heart rate, and focus the mind using a gentle touch.

During the exercise, focus on breathing in through the nose, as if you’re smelling a beautiful rose, and sighing out through the mouth.

  • Spread out the fingers of one hand like a starfish.
  • Take the other hand’s index finger and rest it at the base of the thumb. As you trace up towards the tip of the thumb, breathe in, pause as you round the top, and then breathe out slowly as you trace to the base of the finger.
  • Take another deep breath through the nose as you slide up, pause, and breathe out as you slide down.
  • Breathe in, pause, and breathe all the way out.
  • Breathe in and out.
  • Notice how much calmer you feel.

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