How to Establish a Healthy Summer Sleep Schedule
With summer vacation in full swing, the “early-to-bed, early to rise” mentality your family adhered to during the school year has likely worn off. Over the next few months your kids will be able to keep their book bags tucked away and their alarm clocks turned off. However, reprogramming their sleep schedules for the summer can be a tricky beast. After all, late nights and early mornings are just as draining between June and August as they are during the school year. Here are some helpful tips you can use to make your kids’ transition into this new rhythm much easier and establish some healthy sleep habits for your family:
6 Ways to Establish a Healthy Summer Sleep Schedule
- Make sleep a priority. Summer should be a time when things are a bit less structured. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged kids (6-13) need nine to 11 hours of shut-eye per night. This requirement doesn’t change just because they aren’t in the classroom. So, while road trips and family get-togethers may keep everyone awake a bit later during the summer, ensuring your kids get their proper amount of sleep is crucial to their health.
- Stick to a routine. We are all creatures of habit, but children especially benefit from routine. Your kids should stick to the same pre-bedtime-ritual they follow during the school year. If they put their pajamas on, brush their teeth and read a book before turning off the lights, stick with the same order – even if this process happens later on in the evening. This will make their back-to-school transition smoother in the fall.
- Control their sleep environment. Since daylight lasts longer during the summer months, it is more likely that your kids will want to stay up later or keep playing outside until the sun sets. So when they are approaching bedtime and it’s time to power down, transforming their bedroom into a quality sleep sanctuary will help them (and you!) get some rest. First and foremost, turn down the lights and the thermostat. Sleep studies show that the darker the room, the better the sleep. As for temperature, 68-72 degrees is the ideal range to help your children fall asleep and keep them snoozing soundly.
- Watch what they eat and drink. Summer is a time where we tend to have cook outs, enjoy ice cream and cool off with lemonade. While these summer staples are great, they can have a negative effect on your kids’ sleep schedule. Be wary of how much sugar and caffeine they’re consuming – especially as the evening approaches.
- Establish a healthy sleep zone. The best mattress is a comfortable one. Make sure your child’s mattress is comfortable, supportive and allergen-free. Consider using mattress protectors or mattress encasements. These are effective sleep tools that help block allergens and prevent your child’s occasional nighttime accident from ruining his or her mattress.
- Choose the right bedding. Bedding should be clean, soft and the appropriate weight for the summer season. Your child should be able to move easily during sleep. Consider storing that heavy winter quilt and trading it out for a light duvet or a thin blanket during the warmer months.
Without question, summer vacation should be a time of relaxation for you and your children. While reprogramming their sleep schedules may take some work on the front end, it will pay off in the long run. The benefits of sleep are well-documented, and teaching your children healthy sleep habits now will benefit them throughout their lives. They’ll sleep better, you’ll sleep better – and when school returns, they’ll be able to transition more easily.