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For many parents, this time of year means saying goodbye to those late nights. It’s time to get kids back into their regular sleep routines and schedules before they go back to school, and it isn’t always easy. Luckily for us, sleep consultant Alanna McGinn has some tips to help.

It’s common for your teen to start struggling with sleep. Often parents find their teens take longer to get to bed. At this age, adequate sleep is necessary as children are growing, becoming increasingly active in school and after-school activities, and need well rested minds and bodies to strengthen their cognitive ability, memory, alertness, and overall mood and behaviour for school and learning. Children at this age suddenly start to sleep less even though their bodies still need the same amount of sleep.

Create a good sleep environment

Our goal is to create a sleep environment that is comfortable, consistent and conducive to sleep. Ensure the room is nice and dark as darkness encourages body to produce melatonin. ie: install blackout blinds, remove devices that emit blue light.

Products to try:

Create a family docking station

Create a family docking station in the home outside of bedrooms—all tech should be docked there at bedtime.

Products to try:

Use a weighted blanket

Putting yourself to sleep is a learned skill, and involves being able to self-regulate. Many kids with sensory processing challenges find going to sleep and staying asleep difficult. Some of the common areas related to sleep that children with sensory issues may have a hard time will include:

  • Noises in the house
  • Issues with sheets or pjs feeling uncomfortable
  • Not able to relax and be calm in bed so they can fall asleep

Snug fitting pyjamas can often be best for those with sensory issues to touch. However, know that each child is different and it may take a while to determine which type of pyjamas they can tolerate. In addition to trying snug fitting pyjamas, you can also look into compression garments. Weighted blankets have become a popular choice for people struggling with insomnia, anxiety, and sensory issues. The heaviness provides a firm, deep pressure stimulation that affects the nervous system and allows a decrease in anxiety.

For a child, a weighted blanket should be between 5 to 10 per cent of their body weight. For an adult, a weighted blanket should be 10 per cent of their body weight, up to a maximum of 25 per cent. If possible, try out a few weighted blankets before you buy one so that you get the right weight based on your preference.

Products to try:

Use healthy tech

Our teens understand tech and this is a great way to educate them on healthy sleep. A wakeup light will help them wake up naturally and diffusers can create a calming environment to sleep in. Devices like Google Home allows them to easily listen to soothing bedtime stories and podcasts, and a smart plug can guarantee your teen isn’t using tech too late into the night.

Products to try:

Create a family sleep contract

Have a family meeting to discuss:

  • Why sleep is important and what it does to our body.
  • Introduce the idea of new bedtime rules and what are things that are important to them at bedtime. Family sleep rules are important because they help to clearly outline what the expectations are within your household.
  • Figure out how you are going to track success and explain this to them as well. Ex: logging a chart to check off the areas that have been successful, etc…
  • It’s important for parents to understand to be patient, celebrate small steps, little changes can go a long way, and they may not get all the information in one conversation.

Practice mindfulness

You can incorporate certain bedtime techniques that can help the entire family sleep better. There are tools to help your kids connect and tune in with themselves as a way to be ready for sleep and relax. Practicing mindfulness helps your mind stay present and stop worrying about the past or future. There are great apps that all ages can use to help guide them through some easy meditation and mindfulness.

Apps to try: