Is it that time of year already? As we gear up for the end of summer, we’re going to be sharing with you our top back to school sleep tips. As moms and dads prepare their kids with a fresh haircut, new shoes, school uniforms, supplies, and all the fancy new gadgets to get your child ready for the first day of school. All this preparation and most of us forget about prepping with important back to school sleep tips. We’re all too familiar with the link between poor sleep and poor school performance so now is the time to create good sleep routines and habits. Quality of sleep has been shown to improve one’s ability to focus, reduce daytime fatigue, and is critical for forming and retaining memories( Source). Developing a regular sleep schedule, creating a safe sleep environment and other good sleep hygiene will have positive results on your child’s overall well being which will reflect in his/her academic achievements. In fact, it’s just as important as ensuring your child has the healthiest sleep environment.
It’s difficult to parent in the modern world with the recent pandemic that has changed how we work, when we socialize, and why we make our choices. When it comes to parenting, most of us do the best we know how and what we feel is right for our children. Our beliefs and traditions are passed on, as well as our bad habits. One bad habit we can change is how we perceive SLEEP! Sleep is the foundation of the quality of your health. When you get proper sleep, your body spends more time in the DEEP and REM sleep cycle which allows rapid recovery and improved mental and physical health. Through awareness and education, we understand how to eliminate stimulants and improve the quality of sleep. That is the power of sleep.
The same sleeping principles we use as adults can be applied to kids preparing to go back to school. The process of adjusting or getting back to a sleep routine should be incremental and applied weeks before the start of school. It can be as simple as going to sleep and waking up 15 minutes earlier each day, limiting screen time before bed, or unplugging all electronic devices in the bedroom. We really dig into this with our top 3 back to school sleep tips below.
There is a direct correlation between sleep and cognitive ability. Lack of sleep can compromise a kid’s ability to learn; sleep deprivation makes it harder for kids to maintain focus, remember facts and make good decisions – all of which are essential to thriving in school. Kids who lack sleep also have trouble controlling their emotions by displaying frequent outbursts and hyperactivity which can have adverse effects on the teaching environment and their classmates. The important thing is to establish healthy routines and be consistent with the practice. Make adjustments and continually eliminate stimulants in the sleep environment.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DOES YOUR CHILD NEED?
The number of hours varies for each individual and you must factor in age, diet, physical activity, and personal needs. However, these are guidelines based on NSF research.
- Preschoolers (ages 3-5) – average 10-13 hours of sleep
- School-age children (ages 6-13) – average 9-11 hours of sleep
- Teenagers (ages 14-17) – average 8-10 hours of sleep
- Young Adults (ages 18-21) – average 7-9 hours of sleep
How your child starts sets the tone for the remainder of the school year. Children learn by observation and we as parents need to model good sleep habits and reinforce the importance and benefits of sleep. There is good information and bad information, as the parent you must apply the knowledge and measure the results. We hear, “limit the use of electronics before bed, eat healthy food and no snacks before bed, exercise regularly but not one hour before bedtime, be consistent, practice what you preach”, but what else can we do and what are some new trends for cracking the back to school code?
BACK TO SCHOOL SLEEP TIPS TO BIOHACK YOUR KIDS
Have you heard of biohacking? Basically, it’s changing the environment around you and inside of you to enhance your quality of life and longevity…sounds kind of parenting but with a modern twist. Biohacking or previously termed DYI biology has been around since 2009 (Source: Rise Of Biohacking) and recently moved from a fad/trend to a movement. What started with the older generation experimenting to find the fountain of youth by changing the way they eat and exercise, evolved into biohacking your kids. For inquisitive moms and dads, take a quick read here from the “Godfather of Biohacking ” Dave Asprey, or dive into a deeper understanding of biohacking your sleep from our CEO and Founder Jack Dell’Accio.
So what are the things we can do to start biohacking our children for better sleep, diet, and focus?
Dave Asprey Back to School Sleep Tips:
- Consistency – create bedtime routines
- Limit electronic devices
- Blackout room and remove electronics that emit light
- Supplements – chamomile tea
- Brain food – broccoli
- No Sugar – kryptonite for kids and adults
- Get on healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables
- Breathe – deep breathing increases oxygen which promotes calmness
- HRV Training – Heart Rate Variation teaches fight or flight control
- Active Listening – allow kids to express themselves and feel empowered
Jack Dell’Accio’s Top 3 Back to School Sleep Tips:
- Our bodies are designed to work best when we follow a predictable routine. A child’s central nervous system is the same. If you maintain the same routines when preparing for sleep such as a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or reading a story at consistent times every night your child will begin to associate these activities with a time to wind down. This brain shift will put their bodies into the mode to anticipate sleep, at which time it will naturally begin slowing down its central nervous system functions and lead to better sleep outcomes.
- Be mindful of distractions and stimulants. The most important stimulants that are often overlooked, as you can’t actually see them, are toxins. Your child’s room should be free of stimulating toxins and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that leach out of their furniture and mattresses. These toxins stimulate the central nervous system, which has been shown to impact sleep, sleep quality, and growth. Many furniture manufacturers by law must use flame retardants which tend to be the biggest culprit of these growth-inhibiting stimulants. Prioritizing organic furniture and mattresses should be at the top of the list when creating a healthy sleep environment for your child. A more obvious stimulant that should also be addressed is light. Using black-out shades to eliminate the possible outdoor lights that can stimulate a child is important, as children also go through deep sleep cycles that follow their circadian rhythm. Flickering lights or streams of light can stimulate a child through their stages of sleep, causing difficulties falling asleep or restless sleep. For infants, I would add that a crib mobile should not be used during sleep. This is the perfect stimulant for them to want to play.
- The bedroom should be a safe space with limited screen time. The feeling of safety is comforting for children, and feeling safe in their space is important for sleep. They should feel like their bedroom is their own sanctuary, where they can go to relax and not need someone’s presence to feel comfortable. This is why it is important to limit screen time in the bedroom, you want to ensure your child is comfortable in the quiet of their room. For older children, avoiding scary movies and video games will be important. If your child needs some sort of nightlight, ensure you are using a soft nightlight with a color temperature that will not stimulate the brain but rather help with that relaxation. Another big plus to eliminating screens or wireless technology from a child’s bedroom is to reduce their exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that emit from all electronic and wireless devices. EMFs directly impact blood cell behavior and are hypothesized to impact oxygen flow through the blood. So not only are the physical toys, clocks, or devices a distraction but they also have unseen stimulants.
There are so many options when it comes to biohacking your body and health. What works for one may not work for others but we feel biohacks that focus on the back to basics and natural approach are ones you can begin your personal journey with little or no cost.
For many parents, back to school is filled with the usual book, pen, highlighter, and a host of supply checklists for students. For biohackers and wellness parents, they are creating a checklist for the child’s overall wellbeing. We know change can be good and bad and it causes anxiety for some, so this year we want to introduce 3 other checklist items that go beyond simply back to school sleep tips. Don’t worry you won’t be graded and it’s at your own pace.
- Social Awareness – take note of your child’s social environment and comfort level at the beginning of the year and use it as a benchmark. What is the same and what is new? We want to foster healthy friendships, inspire new interests, create new connections, and make them feel excited about learning new experiences.
- Emotional Awareness – Don’t ask the same questions every day, “how was school today?” and then be satisfied with a generic answer like fine, ok, good. Be present and in the moment with your child. Ask questions that allow your kid to express their emotion and feelings. They may roll their eyes and look at you funny but show genuine interest and let them know you are a safe place for open dialog.
- Physical Awareness – This refers to physical surroundings and the physical body. How do I get to school, what is my bus number, where are my classrooms and where is the cafeteria are common questions your child may have. You want them to ask the questions and you can provide answers to eliminate any unknowns. Other things like weight change, hair length, muscle composition, skin complexion, and sleeping patterns are signals to watch. Stay connected but allow them room to grow.
It’s never too late to implement a wellness plan. Start with small measurable actions and discover what works for you. Work your plan, be persistent and patient, then when you add all the small changes up over time, you will realize a new picture.
We hope our back to school sleep tips can help you gear up for an amazing year. Do you have any back to school sleep tips that are helpful? Share them with us in the comments below!