Six Summer Sleep Tips: Keep Your Sleep Through Excitement and Heat!
Summer’s here! That means BBQ’s, camping, travelling, festivities, long, hot days, and so much excitement! Having a baby who won’t sleep in the midst of all of this fun can definitely put a damper on your summer enjoyment.
Here are six summer sleep tips to help you feel well-rested while thoroughly enjoying everything summer has to offer:
Routine, routine, routine.
Babies and children are creatures of habit. Try to stick as closely as possible to their bedtime routine, even if it is at a slightly different time. If you have been using a bedtime routine for at least a few weeks, the steps in this routine can cue your child to feel sleepy. If you haven’t started one yet, it’s never too late.
If you are finding your child is having a hard time settling down due to the excitement of the day, you can incorporate a wind-down routine allowing for some quiet, non-stimulating play 30-60 minutes before bedtime (ie. stories, puzzles, play dough, etc.).
Eat dinner at your regular dinnertime. Eating late can throw off your child’s entire evening routine. If you normally eat at 5, play until 6:30, and then start your bedtime routine, they will expect this same sequence of events even if you eat at 6:30 pm. As you can see, this makes for a laaaate bedtime and likely an overtired child.
Cool as a cucumber.
In the midst of a summer heat wave, you will probably notice that bedtime becomes a struggle. Think of how you feel trying to fall asleep when it’s a scorcher….not very comfortable and not likely to happen very quickly.
Fans are a great tool. I recommend you keep them running all night (away from your child’s face). Although fans don’t cool the air in the room, at least they move it around. Window fans are another great option. Some are reversible, meaning you can transfer the hot inside air with (hopefully) cooler air from outside.
Air conditioning is the ultimate way to cool down your kiddos bedroom. Check out your local buy/sell site for a deal on a used air conditioning unit. If you are concerned about the electriticy costs, you don’t have to run AC all night long. Most units come with a timer so you can have it shut off at any time during the night. This also ensures that your child’s bedroom doesn’t become too cold through the night.
Summer weight sleep sacks are also a great option. Depending on the temperature, you can dress your baby in a diaper, onesie, or a sleeper underneath.
A dark room is great for two reasons:
- Darker rooms are cooler rooms. Blackout blinds or shades are a great tool for convincing your child that it is actually bedtime on those bright summer evenings. You can also draw the blinds during the day to block the sunshine from heating up the room.
2. Melatonin is produced in the dark. Melatonin is what makes us feel sleepy. Enough said.
Road trips, camping, travelling, oh my…
Travel often puts a wrench into sleep and I don’t know many people who prefer to be tired while they vacation. To minimize the sleep disruptions caused by travel, stay as consistent as possible. This means replicate your routines and sleep environment as closely as you can. Bring garbage bags and tape for windows in the room you will be staying in, bring your child’s sleep sack, book, lovey, white noise machine, and whatever else you need to duplicate your routine.
If you will be cosleeping/room sharing while on vacation and you have an older child, let them know that this is what yo do when you travel. Be clear that once back at home, they will be back in their own bed.
Try to prioritize your child’s nap/s to help with their nighttime sleep. When kids get overtired, they can struggle with nighttime sleep, early rising, and emotional regulation. Not so fun when trying to enjoy a family vacation.
BBQ’s, family gatherings, and other awesome, but disruptive summer fun.
I completely understand that it isn’t realistic to follow your child’s nap schedule all summer long. This would mean missing out on so much of what makes summer awesome! To minimize the effects summer excitement can have on your little one’s sleep, try to protect at least half of your child’s naps each day. Mornings may be best to try for a nap on the run, as this would give your baby a chance to catch up in the afternoon and hopefully be rested enough to fall asleep easily at bedtime. If your activity is in the afternoon, allow for an extra early bedtime.
Some kids do better with missed naps and late nights than others. This is where temperament comes into play. You know how some people are quite happy and silly when they drink alcohol, and others are more on the destructive side? Babies and young children are the same way when they miss sleep. Use your judgment on how far to push your child. If they are entering inconsolable meltdown territory, it’s probably too much for them. Some kids are fine with sleep disruptions a couple of times per week. Some are fine with daily disruptions. And there are some that you just don’t mess with their sleep….ever.
Getting back on track.
Sadly, there is an end to summer every year. Vacations end, fall comes, school starts and we all eventually have to get back to a normal sleep routine.
Having random late nights can throw off your child’s circadian rhythm. To help them get ready for earlier bedtimes and earlier mornings, give yourself a couple of weeks at the end of the summer to get back into a normal sleep pattern. This will help your child be rested for their dayhome/daycare/school and you to be rested for work or your otherwise busy days ahead.
I hope these summer sleep tips help you to have a super fun AND well-rested summer!
Andrea Galambos is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and founder of Blissful Nights. As a former exhausted parent of 2 busy little boys, and a baby daughter, Andrea fully understands the toll extreme sleep deprivation can take. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Andrea works with tired parents of infants and small children, helping them gently and lovingly teach their children invaluable sleep skills. As the children learn to sleep, parents are reunited with their own long-lost and desperately missed uninterrupted sleep.