UBC’s Wendy Hall offers tips on how to get your kids back to a regular sleep schedule after the holidays, and year-round
Between waiting up for Santa at Christmas and staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, the holidays can wreak havoc with a child’s sleep schedule. Wendy Hall, a professor at the UBC School of Nursing and noted sleep expert, offers some advice on how to get your kids back on track in the New Year.
How can parents get kids back to a regular bedtime after being on an extended break from school?
It is best to gradually return your children to a regular bedtime and routine. Rapid changes in bedtime of an hour or so will result in children lying in bed unable to sleep. Moving the bedtime forward by about 10 minutes per night is a good approach.
What is the best sleeping environment?
The best sleeping environment is quiet, cool and dark. If your child is a light sleeper and there is background noise, something like a fan left on all night can help your child sleep because it blocks the noise. Try to avoid having computer screens, cell phones and TVs in the bedroom. Having exposure to the blue light from the screens resets children’s biological clocks and interferes with falling asleep. Also, if these items are in the bedroom and a child wakes at night, it is more likely that they will play on the computer or text or watch TV than to go back to sleep.
Why is it important for kids to have a regular bedtime?
Regular bedtimes help children fall asleep more easily and stay asleep during the night. When children’s bedtimes vary by an hour or two it is more difficult for their bodies to set their internal clocks, which interferes with their sleep.