The summer is coming to a close and the new school year is about to start. Your kids had a wonderful time staying up late and sleeping in, but now it’s important for the reverse to occur – and fast. Try to take the last few days before school starts to set up new patterns for your children and get them ready to wake up early.
But I don’t want to get up
With many schools, the older the student, the earlier they start classes. If getting to school involves bus transportation, your student may need to get up significantly earlier than they’re used to. Try over these last few days to get your child up an hour or two earlier. They may be a bit grumpy, but no one said this wouldn’t be painful.
Research tells us that our body temperature becomes elevated before waking in the morning. Sunlight plays a major role in letting our body know it’s time to warm ourselves and wake up. If you have blinds or curtains in your child’s room, open them up and let the sun in. You can put the lights on and allow your child some time to adapt to the changes in their room and gradually let their body wake up on its own. Also try turning on a little music to encourage their senses to kick in and get them moving.
Plan activities for the day
Plan a number of activities for the day that keeps your children going. Walking around at the zoo, going to the batting cages, or even strolling around the mall, keeps the body active. Once your child starts school, they’ll be on the go from the time they walk through their classroom doors until the end of the day. People are talking, moving around, teachers are providing lessons, giving out paperwork, and there’s also running from one class to the other, in hopes of finding the right room before the last seat available is in the front row. You want to get your child used to the sporadic activity of sitting, standing, and moving around. They no longer can sit and play their video games, watch television, or take a nap in the middle of the day. Both their body and their mind needs to remain alert and ready to absorb all that wonderful knowledge.
Discourage eating before bed time
Eating too close to bed time can affect your child’s ability to get a restful night’s sleep. When we eat, we experience a rise in our blood sugar. This tells our pancreas to release insulin to help break down and transport the sugar to our cells. As this process occurs, your body experiences a movement from a high sugar level to a rapid decrease in sugar or a crash. Did you ever notice that when you eat dessert, you find yourself with a lot of energy and then you quickly get very tired? This crash tells your body that you’re going through a period of stress and your body responds by releasing a chemical known as cortisol. In turn, cortisol reacts by preventing the release of a hormone known as norepinephrine. Without norepinephrine we see an interference with digestion, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate and a lack of melatonin production. This is important because melatonin has a direct influence in our ability to sleep. No melatonin equals difficult sleeping; equals cranky child.
Almost done with my evening routine
Get your child back into an evening routine. Kids love routines. It gives them direction and makes them feel safe and secure. By being consistent, your child learns to perform their routine on their own, resulting in the building of their confidence and self-esteem. As an added bonus, you’re able to back away and enjoy a few extra minutes for yourself.
Some kids respond better to taking a bath or shower in the evening so they have more time to sleep in the morning. Others need the shower to help them wake up. There’s no rule against having your kids assist you in getting lunches ready, let little ones help pick out their clothes for the next day, or get their back pack ready. Reading before bedtime, watching television in bed, or listening to music can be a great way for your children to get their body to calm down; but only for a short period of time. Any significant length of time can cause too much stimulation and defeat the initial purpose.
Just as we created light and stimulus in the morning, try to produce the opposite effect at night. In the evening hours our body looks to decrease it’s temperature. While you want your child to be comfortable while sleeping, creating a cooler environment can help them to sleep better. Try leaving a window slightly open or have a ceiling fan run on low. The dark, cool room starts the production of norepinephrine and melatonin; resulting in a better night of rest. It’s never too late to help your children to get a good night’s sleep and learn to wake up early. Sometimes it good to learn from the behaviors we try to instill in our children and take our own advice. Nothing says that your sleeping habits couldn’t use a little improvement; after all, you’re the one waking up with them the next morning.