The kids are out of school, camps have started, BBQs are happening, and the days seem endless. There’s no getting around it ... summer is here! With longer days and less structure come the challenges of keeping our little ones well rested. It is so easy to let sleep schedules fall by the wayside and our usual routines take a back seat.
"When school is out during the summertime, children's bedtimes, diets and routines often change dramatically compared to the rest of the year. All of these factors can lead to sleep deprivation, which can result in personality changes, temper tantrums, and lower energy levels," says Ben Thorud, Senior Vice President of Ashley Sleep.
Is it really that important to keep our children on the same sleep schedule year round? Yes! Despite the lackadaisical days of summer, kids thrive on a consistent structure no matter the season.
Read on for six tips for better sleep this summer.
Honor Nap Schedules
Whether it is summer, fall, winter, or spring, our kids need their day sleep to keep them well rested so they don’t become overtired. Skipping a nap for a special occasion is one thing, but a pattern of skipping naps or pushing the naps too late in the day is a sure way to wreak havoc on your child’s sleep.
Limit Sunlight before Bed
To help your child get ready for sleep when the sun is still out, dim the lights in your house an hour before bedtime. The reduction in light triggers melatonin production, the sleep hormone that signals the body to prepare for sleep.
Keep the Room Cool
The ideal sleeping temperature is 65-70 degrees. A cool room will help your child fall asleep and stay asleep. A cool bath, approximately one hour before bedtime, results in a mild drop in your little one’s body temperature that will also help to induce sleep.
Block Out the Light
Darkness is a key ingredient of an ideal sleep environment. With the sun coming up earlier in the morning, use black out shades to block out any unwanted light that may wake your child too early in the morning. A darker room also helps keep the bedroom nice and cool.
Get to Sleep on Time
Stick to the bedtime that you know works for your child. An earlier bedtime is the only place to make up for poor day sleep and will help keep your little one from being sleepy and irritable the next day. Staying up late does not result in a later wake time for most children. More often, it results in kids waking earlier in the morning.
Don’t Worry What Others Think
If you know your child does better going to bed at an earlier time, don’t feel badly doing what is best for him. It is hard to stand up to the pressures of relatives and neighbors whose sleep philosophies are different than your own. Always remember that you are your child’s best advocate, and you know what is best for him.
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.