In the summer, it is so easy to get out of routine, especially when it comes to sleep. With the longer daylight hours, it can be challenging to get kids to bed early. And if there’s no need to rush out the door to work in the morning, it can be tempting to sleep in. Although we can manage this temporarily, a shortage of sleep or an irregular pattern of sleeping will catch up eventually and you may start noticing these signs or symptoms of it becoming an issue:
- Poor mental health
- Difficulty staying awake in the day
- Difficulty learning/concentrating
- Low energy/lethargy
Ensuring we get enough sleep can optimize physical health, emotional well-being and quality of life. Children 5-13 need 9-11 hours each night, teenagers 14-17 need 8-10 hours and adults need 7-9 hours. But it’s not just about the length of sleep, it’s also about the quality of sleep. Many children and adults have trouble falling or staying asleep or do not find their sleep refreshing.
So, as we wind down the last few weeks of summer and have to prepare for the start of our fall activities, consider shifting back into a healthy sleep routine. After a family dinner, consider a relaxing walk in the neighbourhood to help digest and burn off any excess energy. Then skip the screens! The blue light from televisions, phones and tablets can disrupt our melatonin cycle—the key sleep hormone—and provide stimulation that can prevent us from becoming tired naturally. Instead, opt for reading a book or even meditation or relaxation techniques, perhaps a warm shower or bath.
On the subject of phones, best practice is to keep them out of the bedroom and use a clock instead. Otherwise it can be tempting to engage if you check the time in the night and see a message or notification. For teens, consider managing the phone charger so that you take possession of the phone each evening and prevent them from being on it too long and too late.
For more information, check out this Health Canada infographic: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-children-getting-enough-sleep-infographic.html
And to understand if lack of sleep may be impacting your teen’s physical and emotional health, https://www.uclahealth.org/sleepcenter/sleep-and-teens