VANCOUVER -- Are your kids having trouble sleeping? Many families are finding that remote learning and pandemic-related stress have disrupted their sleep routines. But there are some things you can do to turn it around and get back on a schedule.

Smily Sanchez’s children used to be good sleepers, but she says the pandemic changed everything.

“I was putting them to sleep between 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night, and in the morning the morning they were exhausted again. So it was really hard for them and for me to get everything settled and to have a regular sleep time like we had before,” she says. 

It’s not just the long term health impacts of the coronavirus in children that’s unknown. It’s also the impact of our new normal. Changes in eating habits, exercise and disrupted sleep routines can throw things off too. 

According to the medical journal Pediatrics, sleep deprived children are at risk of weight gain and developing Type 2 diabetes. 

“Getting enough sleep is so important,” says Kevin Loria, a health editor with Consumer Reports. “Along with exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, it can help manage stress and reduce anxiety, and it may help maintain a strong immune system, which is really important right now.” 

Good sleep habits are the same for kids and adults. To get back on track, set a sleep routine – that means going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day. It helps the body get used to a fixed sleep schedule. During the day, it’s important to get outside. Regular physical activity has been linked to sounder sleep at night. And exercise can boost the effect of sleep hormones like melatonin, especially if it’s done in bright morning daylight. 

Another crucial rule for kids and adults, Loria says, is limiting screen time, especially at night. 

“Blue light from screens can slow the production of your natural sleep hormones, so try to limit video gaming, computers, tablets and phone use at night,” he says. 

A simple solution: dim the lights and snuggle up with a good book. 

With files from Consumer Reports