During the summer, several factors can disturb your child's sleep. The warmer weather, longer days, and changes in their school schedule can all contribute to this disruption.
Fortunately, there are solutions to these challenges! By understanding how to prepare for and address these issues, you can minimize their impact and prevent them from becoming full blown disasters.
To assist you in this, my latest blog entry presents a handy summer-sleep survival kit. It offers valuable insights on how to predict and prevent the most common disruptions to your child's sleep during the summer. By following these tips, you can ensure your little one enjoys a well-rested and memorable summer. Here are my tips for managing the summer months:
1. Darken that room up!
The longer days of summer can disrupt our sleep patterns, creating a false perception that it's still daytime. This can be challenging for our natural body rhythms and can particularly affect our circadian rhythm. It's crucial to be mindful of this when considering our children's sleep schedules.
If your child is accustomed to going to bed around 7:00 or 7:30, but it still looks like high noon outside, you'll need to darken the room up significantly. This can be achieved with blackout curtains + add the darkest black out blinds you can find. Some even do this by covering the windows with garbage bags. Dimming or darkening the surroundings triggers melatonin production, so if it's not happening naturally due to sunlight, we need to create the right conditions artificially. Here's a Darkness scale below for reference as to how dark is dark enough. I recommend you aim for a level 9 at minimum.
2. Create a dim environment before routine
Starting 1-2 hours before bedtime, close the curtains, minimize unnecessary lighting, and ensure the child's bedtime routine takes place in a dimly lit room. By the time they're ready to sleep, we can already have some natural melatonin circulating, making it easier for them to fall asleep.
3. Keep morning sunlight out
In areas where the sun rises early, such as 5:00 in the morning, it's important to prevent that sunlight from entering the room. This helps prevent early morning risers and ensures that sufficient sleep is obtained despite going to bed slightly later. Tip: use double-sided fabric tape or Velcro to hold down the sides of the curtain to limit that pesky light that comes out the sides. Make sure your curtains go all the way to the floor and if you find there’s a lot of light coming from the top of the curtain, changes are you need to hang the curtain rod higher.
4. Going away this summer?
It’s hard to know the brightness level in your hotel, cottage or vacation home and especially if there are any time zone changes in your destination – ensuring you can block out that light is even more essential. I recommend bringing a portable black out curtain like the one Sleepout makes. It goes up in less than 10 seconds and actually darkens the room efficiently. If your interested in bringing this along you can use my code Daniella10 to save extra on top of any sale offered.
5. Remember the importance of schedules
While it's so much fun to indulge in holiday activities or enjoy some later summer evenings as a family, frequent disruptions to sleep schedules can impact a child's circadian rhythm. Embracing a slightly later bedtime is part of the summer magic, and we don't want to deprive kids of that experience. However, it's important to remember that problems can quickly accumulate. Consistently late bedtimes and inconsistent morning wake-up times throw off their body rhythm. A lack of sleep on one night can lead to overtiredness the next night, making it even harder for your child to get adequate sleep, and the cycle continues. If you allow a late bedtime occasionally, try to balance it out with a few days and nights of maintaining a regular routine afterward.
This approach will prevent things from spiraling out of control and ensure your child remains happy and well-rested to enjoy those wonderful summer days.
Maintaining a consistent sleep routine during the summer months ensures a smooth transition back to regular schedules when fall arrives.
6. Daytime Outdoor Activity
While it's important to avoid sunlight at bedtime, taking your child outdoors during the day can have a positive impact on their nighttime sleep. Natural sunlight offers various benefits, such as providing vitamin D for mood regulation, stimulating cortisol production (which can be
beneficial in the right amounts and at the right time, despite its reputation as the "stress hormone"), and promoting serotonin production. Serotonin plays a dual role in enhancing their mood during the day and converting to melatonin at night, aiding in sleep. So, encouraging your little ones to get ample sunlight, especially first thing in the morning, can make it easier for them to drift off at night.
7. Mindful Eating Habits
Part of the summer’s magic is the cold treats that come along with hot weather. It’s a fond childhood memory of mine thinking of our trips to the shake-shack at the beach. It simply isn’t summer if you don’t get a least one stain from drips of popsicle on your clothes!
However, it's important to note that excessive consumption of simple carbs can disrupt your child's sleep. High carb intake can increase night wakings, reduce deep sleep, and leave them feeling lethargic the next day. Since summer days often involve being in and out of the house, and meal schedules may not be as structured as during the school year, it's a good idea to have healthy snack options
readily available. Cut up some fruit, veggie sticks and dip, place some wholesome crackers in a bowl, and let your kids grab them as they please. As long as the majority of their calorie intake comes from healthy sources, indulging in a few pieces of candy or ice cream shouldn't have a significant detrimental effect.
There you have it—seven simple solutions to help you navigate the summer without compromising your kids' sleep schedule. Not only will this survival guide help you maintain a smooth summer, but it will also keep your child on track so that transitioning back to a regular routine in the fall becomes much easier.