Sarah Branden, The Conversation
Summer vacation often means sunshine, trips to the beach, hiking in the mountains, relaxation, socializing with family and friends, and an opportunity to sleep.
For many parents, loosening up their children’s bedtime routines and letting them stay up late so they can lay down and catch up on sleep the next morning.
I have spent the last 15 years researching, diagnosing and treating sleep problems and difficulties in children. In particular, I have studied how sleep (or sleep deprivation!) affects the health, well-being, and school performance of young people.
Evidence suggests that a few late nights and a good night’s sleep won’t hurt, but it’s best not to drop out of the bedtime routine completely when you’re on vacation. It can be difficult.
If you want to enjoy a relaxing, good night’s sleep and a healthy circadian rhythm, the best compromise is to maintain a regular wake-up time.
It’s okay to be more flexible about bedtimes while on vacation than school hours. However, parents must consider the adverse effects of uncontrolled circadian rhythms.
Why Spiraling Circadian Rhythm Matters
Even relatively small differences in wake-up time can disrupt your rhythm. For example, research has shown that her two extra hours of sleep on weekends causes problems for young people who “catch up” on the sleep they’ve missed during the week.
Sleep science research supports the need for consistent bedtimes and wake times during the week and weekends.
This is not only because young people can get enough sleep. More importantly, the natural circadian clock requires regularity.
Our circadian clock is what determines when we should wake up and when we should go to bed. Sleepiness and circadian rhythms need to be regular so that they can work together.
Irregular rhythms – which occur when bedtime and wake-up times differ significantly between school weeks and weekends – negatively affect mood, psychological and physical health, social engagement, and school performance There is a possibility.
The risk of letting your kids go to bed late several nights in a row is that they will go to bed late every day. They don’t get sleepy until later that night. If you go to bed later, you may wake up later the next day. And so it goes on.
As you can see, lying down to “catch up” on your sleep can exacerbate the pattern.
If this happens during the school holidays, not only will your bedtime go later and later, but you’ll also get used to your circadian rhythm slowing down.
body clock reset
If your child’s circadian rhythm has become slower and slower during the school holidays, it is certainly possible to reset the circadian clock to a school-friendly and manageable time. However, it requires considerable readjustment and possibly professional help.
If the wake-up time is not working for you, try gradually making it earlier and earlier in the weeks before school starts until the desired wake-up time is achieved. I need motivation.
A better solution might be to keep the circadian rhythm from spinning out of control in the first place.
Sarah Blunden is Professor and Director of Pediatric Sleep Research at CQUniversity Australia.
This article originally appeared on The Conversation.