Managing family sleep routines
It’s tricky to make sure that everyone in your family gets the sleep they need when you all have different sleep routines and requirements, but these strategies can help.
For couples with different sleep routines
Maybe you like to get to bed and wake up early, while your partner is a night owl who likes to sleep in, or vice versa. Experts suggest meeting in the middle may be the best option. This means sleep routines can be shifted for the benefit of each partner. The night owl can be trained to get to bed earlier and the early riser can go to bed a bit later to get closer in sync with each other.
Agreeing to some basic sleep rules is also useful. If your partner likes to read into the wee hours of the morning, he or she might want to do that in a different area of the home to avoid disturbing the other partner.
Some couples find that sleeping separately is a helpful strategy. If that’s the case for you, bear in mind that while you might sleep better, you do need to be intentional about setting aside time some special couple time.
Sometimes out-of-sync routines can’t be helped because of work or study demands. The person who gets out of bed earlier can help the later riser by doing things like setting out their clothes the night before to reduce morning noise. Later sleepers can wear earplugs or a mask to lessen light and sound disturbances.
Children heading back to school
Consistent sleep/wake routines work best for children, but over the holidays or long weekends, it’s easy to get off track.
Get back into the swing of things and ensure your kids are at their best by enforcing regular bedtimes and wake-ups. But start slowly, adjusting the kids’ sleep schedules by 15 minutes a night until they’ve hit the desired bedtime.
Some youngsters are resistant to change so be patient and help them by establishing a wind-down routine before heading to bed. This could include quiet activities like reading books, doing jigsaw puzzles, cuddling or taking a warm bath. If your child doesn’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, you might allow them to get out of bed to do sleep-inducing activities until they get tired. But make sure to keep them away from electronic devices – like TVs, phones and tablets – as these emit blue light and can disrupt sleep.
Prep your child’s bedroom for sleep success by using curtains to block ambient light and use a white-noise device to prevent the sounds of other family members still up disturbing kids and stopping them from falling asleep.
Teens who want to stay up all night
As teens’ hormones kick in, their sleep cycles may shift. According to UCLA Health, a teen’s circadian rhythm changes with the onset of puberty. Before puberty, their bodies began to get “time to sleep” signals around 8 or 9pm. When hormones start kicking in, there’s a shift by a few hours. To parents, it might seem like their teen is suffering from insomnia, but it’s a physical phenomenon called “sleep phase delay.” And it’s normal!
Teens are also growing and their bodies are changing, and so they need a fair bit of sleep. All of this means that they may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, which can be frustrating for parents.
You can help your teens by nudging them to stick to a sleep routine, creating a calm environment before bedtime and encouraging them to exercise and eat right, including avoiding anything with caffeine, like cold drinks and chocolate from 2pm onwards.
Put into place rules around screen time and institute “electronic-free time” to help them wind down before bed.
Teens might feel the need to nap and catch up on sleep on the weekend, but these cat naps shouldn’t exceed an hour, or they might struggle to sleep that night.
For more fun sleep facts and expert sleep advice, why not visit our Sleep Blog?