There are many strategies for reducing stress but one of the most important ones is making sure you and your children get recuperative sleep. Recuperative sleep is the type of sleep where you actually feel rested when you wake up—not just as tired as before you went to sleep!
We know now that media devices are big contributors to sleeplessness. Charles Czeiler, a physician and sleep researcher, wrote an article about light-emitting electronic devices. His study shows that, “the mere presence of a mobile device in the sleeping environment at bedtime, and certainly its use, increases the risk of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and—most important—excessive daytime sleepiness the next day in children 6 to 19 years old.” [JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(12):1146-1147. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2986] In addition, the content seen on the device can be stimulating to the brain, just when the brain is suppose to be winding down for sleep.
For many families, evening TV watching or screen time is a typical end of the day ritual. If you are noticing tired children (and parents) the following morning you might want to try some tips for changing your family’s bedtime ritual. Experts recommend no screen time 60-90 minutes prior to bedtime. Note: this should not cut into sleep time; it means to stop using screen time earlier, not moving bedtime later.
What can you try with your child that can help them wind down? Here are a few suggestions:
- Dim the lights
- Play calming music
- Take a warm bath
- Do some light reading—nothing that is so engaging that you can’t put it down!
- Easy crossword puzzles or word searches
- Easy sorting activities—sorting coins for older children (wash hands after!) or sorting crayons by color for younger children, for example. Sorting laundry. This is not “clean up time” but rather a soothing activity that helps focus the mind on one simple thing instead of letting it run wild before bed.