The New School Year: How to Take Back the Night
The new school year is upon us, and all the excitement and nervousness that surrounds it. Some of us are thrilled to have our children back on a scheduled daily routine, and others are dreading the loss of easy-going mornings and having to make lunches again. Either way, we all need support to ensure the school year is off to an excellent start for both the children and parents.
Below are three tried and true tips focused on pre-bedtime to ensure smoother mornings and days as we transition into the new school year:
1. Set a hard-stop at night for the TV, electronics, mobile phones, video games, etc..
Be sure to manage expectations, so everyone understands that at so & so time; all electronics are turned off, on chargers and either Airplane Mode or scheduled on Do Not Disturb. You can take it one step further if you own Apple devices and set up Screen Time on all devices. Doing this allows you to schedule for a time away from the screen, and during downtime, only the apps that you choose to enable will be available. Ideally, all electronics should be shut down at least an hour before bed; this will reduce your exposure to the Blue Light emitted from these screens that suppress the production the hormone, Melatonin that helps control your sleep-wake cycle/biological clock.
2. Implement a Nightly Routine
Ha, easier said than done, but I promise implementing a nightly routine, for children and adults, makes getting to bed (and sleep) so much easier, and understanding that sleep in imperative to good health, because "without enough sleep you will function poorly, with compromised motor skills, judgment, cognitive performance, depressed mood, and immunity." - Dr. Frank Lipman.
Set yourself up for good quality sleep:
Take a warm bath or shower within an hour before bedtime. Studies have shown that increasing our body temperature before bed can help us feel sleepier, leading to an easier time falling asleep, and maintaining a higher quality of sleep once we are sleeping.
Try to head to bed at the same time daily and ensure you get enough hours of sleep.
Make sure your room is dark and cool, around 70 degrees is ideal, turn off any blue lights in the room, cover alarm clock lights, and keep phones away from the bed.
3. Self-Care techniques to be done before bedtime to calm the body and mind:
Practice meditation, prayer, counting your blessings, extending goodwill/helping others.
Mindful Breathing- stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Expressive journaling- keep a notebook or sketchbook filled with drawings, poems, doodles, and all sorts of other things that express your mood and feeling.
Keeping a gratitude journal and noting small acts of kindness, things you are grateful for can help us feel better and more connected to other people, this helps us feel more positive and secure.
Avoid eating added sugars before bedtime, and stick to less than 25 grams per day, as per the American Heart Associations guidelines.
Just implementing a few of these tips and genuinely understanding how the nighttime routine and good quality sleep play an intricate part in ensuring a productive day. We all want to get up in the morning, feeling well-rested and start the day with great intentions. I work with moms, dads, students leaving for college, people with sleep disturbances, and my own family to dive deeper into what will work for them individually. Creating and sticking to a nightly routine helps everyone become more productive and happier the next day.
In good sleep,