Safe Summer Sleep
With more hours of light and warm weather, getting your child off to sleep during the summer can be a challenge. We’ve put together our best tips for a safe summer of sleep to help you through…
1. A regular sleep environment
Encourage a regular sleep-wake schedule, especially a regular time of getting up in the morning with no more than plus or minus one hour deviation from day to day including the week ends. Wake up time helps to synchronise the body clock. Bedtimes should also be consistent.
2. A healthy sleep environment
Keep Cool. The bedroom should be a comfortable temperature of 18 degrees. Warm temperatures can disturb sleep. This can be particularly difficult to achieve in the summer months. Research shows a hot room leads to more wake time and lighter sleep at night.
Tips for a cooler nights sleep:
Lighter or no bedding
Light cotton sleep wear
During the day time to help build-up of heat, shut the curtains or blinds and keep the windows closed if the temperature outside is hotter outside than inside. During the night, open the windows if the temperature outside becomes cooler.
Place a fan at a low level near a window to circulate the cooler air at night.
A cool flannel or towel on a fore head or feet. Cool feet help to keep the rest of the body cooler.
A cool shower then rest on top of the bed to dry off – this will help to reduce the body and induce sleepiness
A spray of cool water from a clean plant spray bottle- keep by the bedside to use at bedtime and over night.
Shut out the light. Our biological clocks are regulated by light. Getting the balance of enough dark time in the summer months can be difficult.
Make sure your child has plenty of exposure to light during the day( not direct sun ) and ensure their bedroom is as dark as you possibly make it at night. Darkness triggers the production of the “sleepy hormone” melatonin.
Black out blinds are invaluable for blocking out bright morning light and long summer evenings.
Children should avoid bright light at night which includes TV and computer screens.
3. Relaxation time
Have a wind down time prior to sleep. You should encourage your child to change their activities to something relaxing in the half hour or so before bedtime e.g. read to your child or listen to a story tape together.
4. Clear boundaries
Have clear and consistent boundaries at bedtime, when you say 2 stories mean 2 stories, if your child knows what to expect they are less likely to argue.
5. A focused bedtime routine
Aim to carry out the same series of steps every night, about 30 minutes before your child goes to bed:
A warm relaxing bath lasting about 10 minutes, a pre-bed bath should not be a play time.
Go straight from the bathroom into the bedroom- do not go back into the living area.
Dim the lights- this will help with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Have 1 to 2 stories.
Say good night and leave the bedroom
Your child should be asleep about 15 minutes later.
If your toddler wants a bedtime snack encourage him to have a snack of foods that contain an amino acid tryptophan, are thought to make some people drowsy e.g. banana, warm milk, oat biscuit, whole grain cereal, egg, and chicken.
7. Regular outdoor exercise
If possible encourage regular periods of outdoor play 20 -30 minutes three or four times a week. Research has shown increased physical exercise promotes sleep; however aim not to exercise within 3 hours of bedtime.
Reward children with praise every morning when they have kept to the “rules”. A special trip out or small reward will do wonders do encourage them to keep going.