Smart Sleep Habits – tips you can implement now
- Create a regular sleep/wake routine: Going to sleep and getting up around the same time every day helps keep your body clock in a regular rhythm making it easier to get to sleep and wake up. Try to maintain this schedule as closely as you can on weekends and holidays.
- Improve your time management skills: Poor time management often leads to compromised sleep time. To help you manage your time and prioritise your sleep click here to download a copy of a timetable template, which you can personalise.
- Clear your mind by setting aside thinking and planning time prior to winding down
- Have a one hour break between study and sleep
- Have a one hour break between electronic devices and sleep
- Keep your bedroom an electronics free zone: Turn off all technological distractions before you go to bed and keep them out of your room
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet & the right temperature for sleeping
- Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and dim light at night: The most important external signal for the biological clock is light. In the morning, sunlight signals the body to “wake up.” As the day progresses to evening the withdrawal of light lets us prepare for sleep by allowing for the release of chemicals like melatonin.
- Keep pen and paper beside your bed to write down anything that pops up in your mind that may concern you and keep you awake if you don’t write it down
- Choose healthy food and drink
- Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime: Exercise raises body temperature and cortisol levels making it difficult to go to sleep soon afterwards.
- Have a relaxing pre bed wind down routine: Don’t hop in wide awake and alert
Extra For Parents
- Be a good role model: Examine your own sleep habits and your own electronic device use
- Have a bedtime to aim for: Be aware of how much sleep your child needs and have a sleep time to aim for see figures for hours of sleep/age
- Observe for tired signs and check in with your child’s teacher regarding tired signs
- Encourage the use of a 2 week sleep diary: A sleep diary is a great way of finding out if your child is getting enough sleep, what may be affecting the amount and quality of their sleep and how sleep affects areas such as their mood, concentration and energy levels. Click here to download the template
- Help your children with effective time management: The result of a busy lifestyle can be that the amount of time allocated to sleep is often the first thing to be compromised. To download a copy of a timetable template click here
- Discuss and set limits of electronic device exposure
- Think about sleep issues as a potential cause of moodiness
- Try putting yourself in your child’s shoes: Remember what it was like to be a teenager.
- Sometimes sleep problems aren’t about sleep: They can be a sign of an anxiety disorder or depression. Think about sleep in the broader context of your child’s symptoms and history. If you suspect anxiety or depression see an expert for an assessment.
- Seek advice from a health professional: If you’re concerned that problems with sleep, however mild, are having an impact on your child’s life in terms of wellbeing, school, relationships or home life.
Extra For Teenagers
- Limit weekend sleep-ins
- Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
- Get rid of the snooze button: Although you may feel you get a few extra minutes, due to repeatedly waking you up in the wrong part of a new sleep new cycle this can make you wake up feeling groggier
- Don’t lie in bed feeling stressed or frustrated: Try to do something to calm down and then give sleep another go
Whole School Solutions
- “Sleep to be a Smarter Happier Healthier you” program for students, teachers and parents
The Aims of the program include:
- Create awareness of the current level of sleep deprivation among students and the effect this is having on all aspects of their lives
- Empower participants with the knowledge, practical strategies and tools to make informed decisions regarding their sleep health
- Deliver information on pathways to treatment for those who require professional help.
For a program overview including options for teachers and parents visit – Program Overview.
Teachers and Student Welfare
Solutions you can implement now
1. Identify sleepy children in the school environment.
Key red flags include:
- Tired body language
- Younger children can exhibit symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), becoming excitable, hyperactive, disagreeable and engaging in extreme behaviours like tantrums or aggression
- Difficulties concentrating, poor short term memory, declining grades
- Moody and stressed
- Late for school
For other signs see Signs That Children Are Tired.
2. Create a culture of sleep awareness.
Talk to parents and students. Ask them:
- About the amount of sleep the student is getting. Parents often underestimate this. Ask for sleep time/ awake time and if the student has long sleep-ins on the weekend.
- If the student has difficulty waking up and getting going in the morning
Encourage parents and students to:
- Visit The Sleep Connection website
- Implement relevant smart sleep habits (see above)
- Seek professional help
When to Seek Professional Help
Seek advice from a health professional if you’re concerned that problems with sleep, however mild, are having an impact on your child’s life in terms of wellbeing, school, relationships or home life. Also seek help if the problems are making your child anxious, or if they persist for more than 2-4 weeks.
Where to Seek Professional Help:
(Note-SleepShack does not require referral from GP)
SleepShack is the clinically proven, online sleep program for pre-teens* (10-12 years) and teenagers (13-18 years). SleepShack provides a personalised Sleep Treatment Plan developed by Paediatric & Adolescent Sleep Physician Dr Chris Seton, and Clinical Psychologist Dr Amanda Gamble. The treatment is specifically based on the Doctors assessment of your son or daughter’s sleep.
For more information & to determine if your child would benefit from sleep treatment read more here- SleepShack. If you have further questions that are not answered by the program explanation you can fill out a contact form or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Face To Face
Woolcock Paediatric & Adolescent Sleep Clinic
(Visit your GP. If you require a face to face appointment you will need to request a referral to Woolcock from your GP.)
The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research has developed a comprehensive Paediatric and Adolescent Sleep Service which treats sleep disorders in young people from birth to
18 years. This includes Australia’s only interdisciplinary sleep clinic for young people, where Sleep Paediatricians, Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons and Adolescent Sleep Psychologists work together to provide a comprehensive service under one roof.
Specialists can diagnose and treat all sleep issues, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and sleep walking.
For more information visit Woolcock Paediatric and Adolescent Sleep Clinic
Dr Chris Seton – Adolescent & Paediatric Sleep Physician
Call 0423 523 840
Dr Amanda Gamble – Adolescent & Paediatric Sleep Psychologist
Call 02 9114 0000
Yael Galgut – Adolescent Sleep Psychologist
Call 02 9114 0000
Australian Sleep Association
For other services available in your area visit: ASA Sleep Services Directory