Class ideas to help kids get a good night's rest for school
Now all the children in Northern Ireland are back at their desks, desperately trying to get their brains working again, sleep becomes hugely important.
If you haven't already reinstated a sleeping routine, you'll need to do it as soon as possible, says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert at Silentnight. "The school holidays are an exciting time for children. It means enjoying lovely holiday lie-ins, afternoon naps, and sometimes late nights, hugely affecting both parents' and children's body clocks.
"Routine is key to children waking up refreshed and feeling ready for bed at a suitable time. The sooner you begin to reintroduce a sleeping rhythm after several weeks of irregularity, the sooner all the family can fall back into a healthy sleeping pattern."
Don't know where to start? Get bedtime under control with Dr Ramlakhan's top tips.
Introduce a technology-free evening
Research shows a constant stream of light entering our eyes before we go to sleep tells our brains we want to be awake. An hour or so before the children go to bed, rule out any blue light; this means no TV, tablets or mobile phones. The bedroom should be technology-free.
Gradually reintroduce earlier bedtimes
An ideal bedtime for pre-teens would be no later than 8.30pm. If you haven't done so already, try to gradually shift bedtime earlier over the course of a few days to allow children to adjust.
A calming pre-sleep routine
The hours before can be just as important as actual bedtime. A relaxing bath with lavender fragrance, a milky drink or reading are great ways to help children wind down and feel ready for sleep.
Have a chat
Starting a new school year can be worrying for some children. Talk about any concerns they may have before bedtime. You could even try to encourage simple yoga or meditation techniques by repeating a calming word and breathing deeply from the stomach.
Create a sleep-friendly bedroom
Bedrooms should be a cool place, free of noise or distractions. Freshly laundered bedding can make the room feel more calming and relaxing.
Exercise is key
It is scientifically proven that exercise can mean a better night's sleep. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress hormone levels, letting you sleep more deeply. A short walk with children after dinner is a good way to help them wind down.
A good balance of serotonin and melatonin hormones in our system is essential to sleep, and sending children to school with a balanced lunchbox will help. Foods such as chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts (if allowed) and milk are all high in serotonin and are lunchbox friendly to boot.
With the school routine back in full swing, how do you make sure the whole family is thoroughly rested and sleeping well? Ella Walker asks the experts