Here’s how to stop your little ones wearing themselves out this summer
Every child looks forward to the school holidays. It’s a chance for them to relax after a long year at school, seeing their friends and enjoying a seemingly endless stretch of free time.
But while the summer holidays can be great for kids in lots of ways, they aren’t necessarily the best thing when it comes to maintaining a clear sleep schedule. All too often, the lack of school causes our kids to abandon any structure, going to bed and waking up whenever they want.
Why does this matter? Well, an established sleep–wake cycle is important for our physical and mental health; even more so when it comes to children. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day improves your child’s chances of having a good night’s sleep, which helps their body heal, their mind restore itself and their energy levels and mood stay high throughout the day.
Luckily, there are ways to tackle this summer slump. Here are six simple ways to maintain a sleep routine even during the summer holidays.
Establish a regular wake-up time
It can be tempting not to set an alarm for your kids during the summer, but it’s still important that they get up at the same time every day, even at the weekend. A regular wake-up time is important in order to strengthen your child’s body clock. It doesn’t have to be as early as during school time, but it should be the same every day and not too late.
Keep a familiar routine no matter where you are
For many families, summer means a summer holiday, but don’t let your sleep schedule go slack just because you’re away. Keep the same bedtime routine you carry out at home, as this will help your kids establish familiarity despite the new surroundings. You can even consider bringing familiar bedtime items like a teddy bear or book.
Introduce wind-down time
Bright screens can inhibit our release of melatonin – the chemical that tells our body that it’s time to turn in. Introducing wind down time away from tablets and televisions can help your kids feel more ready for bed, so opt instead for jigsaw puzzles, colouring or reading during this time.
Keep bedrooms cool
Even if you get your kids to bed on time, the summer heat can stop them from enjoying a restful night’s sleep. Make sure their bedroom isn’t too hot for them during the night by keeping the curtains closed during the day and swapping a heavy duvet for a lighter sheet.
Invest in blackout blinds
Just as heat can be a factor in sleep health, so can light. In the summer, the sun rises much earlier and sets much later, and this can make it confusing for your child if they’re going to bed while the sun’s still up. Investing in blackout blinds can help your kids get a good night’s sleep even in the summer, and they can also keep the room cool.
Start again from scratch if necessary
If your summer sleep schedule has already gone to seed completely, don’t panic. Simply start building it up again from scratch. Over the last couple of weeks of the holiday, gradually move bedtime forward by fifteen minutes every three nights. Do this until your child is going to sleep at their regular bedtime by the time they start again at school, cutting out any adjustment period.