So parents, how can you power down your kids at night and make bedtime easier? Dr Creighton shares her tips.
Step 1: Create a routine
“First – develop a nighttime routine,” says Dr Creighton.
Whether it’s a bath, reading a book or listening to soothing music, these activities will have a better impact on your child to help them relax before going to sleep.
Step 2: Power down
Second – Power off!
“The hour before bed should be a no-electronics zone,” says Dr Creighton. Studies show that the light from backlit electronics (like tablets, smartphones and video games) can disrupt our ability to fall — and stay — asleep. Dr Creighton says designate a spot in your home for electronics to be plugged in, then have your kids start their bedtime routine by plugging in one hour before lights out.
Ban hand-held devices from the bedroom. “The burst of light from a phone (even if it’s just to check the time) can break a sleep cycle,” says Dr Creighton. “A regular alarm clock is best.”
If your child has a slight addiction to technology and is resistant about turning off their device, try dialing down the screen time. “Reduce screen time by 30 minutes or more each week until you reach your goal,” says Dr Creighton. “A good rule of thumb is try to limit recreational screen time to 60 minutes every day. And for every 30 minutes of screen time, make sure your kids get 30 minutes of physical activity.”
Try to replace screen time with an activity. “It’s sometimes hard to get kids off the couch and get them moving, especially if they think of physical activity as “exercise’’ or “boring,” says Dr Creighton. “Parents, get creative and make moving fun for kids.”
Some of Dr Creighton’s ideas: a 20-minute family walk, 20 minutes of shooting hoops outside, walking the dog, going bike riding and doing chores (with the promise of an allowance) such as vacuuming, putting away laundry, raking leaves, shoveling snow and helping with the garbage/recycling, which are big favorites in her household.
Lastly, establish good habits. Being distracted by phones, hand-held devices and TV shows during mealtime cannot only lead to overeating, but additional unneeded screen time. And be a good role model: Parents, set a good example when it comes to screen time.