Saturday, August 22, 2015

Back to School Sleep (Infographic)

While our southern friends have already made the transition back to school, those of us in the north are still enjoying the last days of our summer vacation. What is your biggest back-to-school challenge?

For my house, no doubt, it's the sleep schedules. I admit, I have let my kids run til they have run out of steam this summer. I hate to say it, but there have been several nights I have laid down with the baby and fallen asleep, only to wake at 1 a.m. and find toddlers passed out on couches and teens still up on computers and tablets.

"Sleep schedules" don't exist here during the summer. Run 'em 'til they drop.

But, with the first day of school fast approaching, I guess {sigh} it's time to buckle down. And, while I've been thinking about it, I really haven't done much to change things around here yet...

Then, this morning, I opened an email that included this interesting infographic:

Yes, I am one of the parents who do all of the no-no's and bribery. :) Whatever works, right?

And, the list of tips that came in the email that I probably won't follow (hey, they'll learn soon enough that they need sleep):

Back-to-School: Tips For Transiting The Family’s Sleep Schedule From Summer to Fall

· Night Owls No More: No Late Bedtimes

“Set your child’s bedtime and stick to all week,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Wells, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science at UNC Chapel Hill. The recommended number of hours of sleep differs for each age group, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, school age (5-10 years) children should get 10-11 hours of sleep per night while teens (11-17 years) should plan on 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep each night.

· Shift Bedtime To Accommodate A Schedule For School

Starting a week or two before school starts, determine the number of hours your child’s bedtime needs to shift and gradually advance the bedtime and wake time to the appropriate time (by no more than 30 minutes per day).

· Turn Off Electronics Two To Three Hours Before Bedtime

Any type of electronic that emits blue light or revs up brain activity counteracts the body’s natural transition to sleep. “The sleep environment should be restful – meaning dark, quiet, comfortable and not distracting. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and associating your child’s bed with sleep can also help, which means keeping ‘sleep stealers’ out of the bedroom, such as computers, smart phones, TV, etc.,” Dr. Wells said.

· Invest In A Comfortable Mattress

Thirteen percent of parents say the quality of the mattress has the biggest impact on quality sleep. Younger parents, millennials, aged 18-29 are the most likely to say mattress quality impacts sleep quality (20%).To help ensure a comfortable night’s sleep, invest in a mattress that is engineered to fully support the back and align the body. “A good mattress can the difference of a transformative sleep and one leaving your child tossing and turning at night,” said Kevin Leatherwood, Senior Director of Global Product Development at Sealy. “Investing in a quality mattress for your child can be one of the most important items in transitioning your child back to school.”

· Soak Up Sunshine After You Wake Up

There are external cues called zeitgebers that help synchronize our sleep/wake rhythm. The sun is by far the most powerful zeitgeber, which can be used to help us orient to our desired routine. “If possible, have your child get outside for some sunshine in the morning soon after waking,” Dr. Wells says. “15 minutes will do the trick.”

Thank you to Sealy (yes, the mattress company) and UNC School of Medicine's Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science for teaming up and creating the infographic and tips! 

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