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Summer Sleep Tips

Summer is approaching, which means warmer weather, more sun and more fun! It is a season we all welcome after a cold winter and wet spring! Unfortunately, all that extra daylight can also have a negative impact on our sleep and our children’s sleep if we are not paying close attention to it. It is very tempting with the longer days, to stay out late and enjoy the warm evenings with your little ones. These later nights are okay to have once in a while, but if they start to become part of the normal routine it can throw off your little one’s healthy sleep habits. Here are a few sleep tips to help keep everyone sleeping well through the summer.

Keep It Cool and Dark

Why is it so much harder to sleep when our bedroom is a little warmer than normal (or a lot warmer)? Our bodies are hardwired to slip into sleep easier when it is in a cooler environment. As part of our body’s circadian rhythm, our internal temperature drops slightly as bedtime gets closer. This natural decrease in temperature sends a signal to your brain that bedtime is right around the corner. However, dropping your internal temperature is more difficult if the temperature of the environment you are in is high, and even harder if there is humidity mixed in there as well.

For this reason, we want to try and get our bedroom cooler in the evenings.  I like to recommend having the temperature between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the house for everyone to sleep comfortably.  If you can’t keep it that cool in the room, consider using a fan.  A ceiling fan set to operate counterclockwise can help with air circulation in the summer. If a ceiling fan is not an option, getting a portable fan and turning it on an hour before bedtime or nap time will keep your child more comfortable as well. You might also consider running a dehumidifier if you live in a particularly humid climate. Humid heat can negatively impact sleep even more than dry heat.

Block the Sun: Put up blackout curtains on all your bedroom windows to block out as much light as possible and help keep the room a little cooler. You may want to keep them closed during the day as well to try and keep the room cooler and darker for nap times as well.

Change the sheets/blankets: Fabrics made of wool and cotton are less likely to trap heat than polyester, so consider swapping out your fleece or polyester blend sheets and blankets for those made of 100% cotton. Same goes for jammies and sleep sacks; swap out those fleece footed jammies and sleep sacks for a nice light cotton material.

Cool the Body: Try having your child take a cool shower or take a cool wash cloth to his neck and wrists as part of the bedtime routine to help decrease his body temperature before bedtime.

Keep a Good Bedtime Schedule/Routine: It is tempting when our kids are out of school to adjust their schedule a little later, meaning later bedtime and later wake up times when there is nowhere to be in the mornings. This can work for some children, but most of the time it is difficult for their bodies to consistently adjust to a new later schedule. Just because it is summer doesn’t mean that the bedtime schedule and routine can get thrown out the window.  Babies and young children thrive on schedules and routines especially when it comes to their sleeping habits.  Be sure to be consistent with bedtime as much as possible and give them enough time for the bedtime routine to happen each night so your child knows that sleep time is coming and his body can prepare for it.

Have Down Time: Not only is it important to be outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air but also allow for some down time.  Babies and young children still need to have quiet times too.  If your child is still napping, be sure to have at least 30 minutes of down time before a nap to give his body a chance to slow down.  If your child is not napping, have quiet time each day where your child can enjoy quiet activities in the house.  I have found that about an hour of quiet time works well for most children.  As for bedtime, I usually recommend about an hour before bedtime, come inside and start slowing things down.

Stay Hydrated: Summer days usually mean busy days, and when days get busy it isn’t always easy to remember to drink water. Research shows that dehydration can lead to sleep difficulties.  It’s easy for young children to get busy playing and forget to have something to drink, so sometimes it is up to us to get them the fluids they need. For little ones that don’t typically ask for something to drink, make sure to offer it to them every time you have something to drink or set an alarm for every hour to offer a drink of water.   

Honor Your Child’s Sleep Needs: Summer time often means more travel, more activities and just a busier life in general. Try to honor your child’s sleep needs as best you can and give your child the best environment to sleep in. Each child is different on how much their sleep schedule can vary and how well they will sleep on the go.  In order to keep your child healthy and happy, be aware of what he can and cannot handle in regards to his sleep.  

I hope these sleep tips will help keep your family happy and sleeping well through the summer!

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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