Welcoming the fall season doesn’t just mean Pumpkin Spice Lattes and a great new wardrobe. Once October hits, adults and kids alike start experiencing what some sleep experts are calling the Sleep Slump. Yeah, it’s a thing, and it hits kids especially hard in October when the excitement of back to school begins to wear off and kids (and parents) get busier with after-school activities.
We all know the importance a good night’s sleep is (for both kids and adults), so paediatric sleep consultant Amanda Jewson shares some tips on how much sleep children of different age groups actually need and what parents can do to help.
Your baby may actually start to sleep a bit later in the morning or show signs of tiredness earlier due to less sun in the evening. Follow their lead. A great bedtime is usually between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., depending on their age.
Young children (4 to 10 years old)
School is overwhelming and your child may need an earlier bedtime because of it. They still need a lot of sleep—sometimes as much as 13 hours. Is your bedtime and awake times allowing your kid the sleep they need? Many younger children in kindergarten may still need naps. If your child is a napper, try a bedtime of 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. until they adjust.
Older children (10+)
Watch their screen time before bed. There should be no screens at least 1 – 2 hours before bed. Recent studies have shown cognitive impairment for children watching screens too long, and they can have problems falling asleep. Take screens out of the bedroom.
Also, keep an eye on their schedule. School is a lot of work and many older kids struggle to balance school life, activities, and homework. Make sure your child is allowed decompression time. They need to rest and relax and recharge in order to fall asleep.
Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep each night. Teens don’t start producing melatonin (a.k.a. our body’s sleepy hormone) until much later in the evening, making it almost impossible for them to fall asleep at a reasonable hour for school the next day. The result? Many teens are sleep deprived at school. Allow them to sleep in on weekends so they can catch up, but never more than two hours more than their usual wake up time, otherwise it can set your teen back for Monday morning wake up!
Less sun during the morning and night makes it very challenging to wake up. Our bodies are in rhythm with the sun, so if it doesn’t rise our bodies don’t feel ready to wake. Buy a sun clock to help with this—it’s a great way to wake up in the morning.
- Have a power-down hour before bed; no electronics or exercise.
- If you have young children, a change in your routine can be exhausting. Go to bed earlier and rest and restore yourself. Workplace productivity is significant impacted by your sleep. All adults should aim for seven to nine hours a night.