The Summer months offer longer days and warmer weather — and kids do not want to go to bed because it’s still light outside! What to do? Try these simple tips for getting children to bed, and to sleep, even on the brightest of Summer evenings.
Continue the Usual Bedtime Routine
Establishing and sticking to a bedtime routine all year round is the most important thing you can do to make sure you are getting your kids to sleep on time. Children like routine as it is reassuring to them. Use this to your advantage and follow the same bedtime routine every single night. Bathe, put on light-weight natural fiber sleepwear, brush teeth, and read with a parent. Your kids will naturally become tired around bedtime, and if you do not stick with a bedtime routine, their sleep and yours will suffer.
Summertime does not mean skipping the sleep schedule, even if school/college is not in session. Our circadian rhythms require children to get adequate sleep regardless of the time of year so they can continue to grow and develop. See the National Sleep Foundation recommendations for sleep amounts for children of all ages.
TIP: Live a little! If you are on vacation or out to catch fireflies or at a campfire, lighten up. One late night every now and then is not going to break them or you! But one way you can start prepping for bed, starting as early as the afternoon or early eve is with a pair of yellow lensed blue blocking eyewear that helps the body keep with its circadian rhythm.
Black It out
Certain parts of the world stay much lighter than normal during the summer (such as the northern countries, provinces, and states). It is extremely difficult to fall asleep when the sky is still light out. This is because our brains use changes in light to signal melatonin release, and persistent light skies at bedtime can slow that process. One option is to install room darkening shades or other window treatments that block light. A quick “on-the-go” but useful option is to hang a dark bedsheet over the window during the summer to add another layer to filter out light. A sure-fire—and definitely more fun option is to have your kids wear sleep inducing eyewear before bed.
TIP: Some kids may have a fear of the dark. If that’s the case, put a warm soft glow non-LED (no blue light!) nightlight in their room to fix that problem.
Keep Your Cool
A cool bedroom allows the body’s core temperature to drop, which is important from a circadian rhythm perspective: the brain can’t send us off to sleep until our body is cool enough. The recommended temperature, according to most doctors and A/C companies for summer sleep is 68-72 degrees for optimal comfort level.
Try to keep your children’s rooms at the same temperature and level of night time darkness all year round. You might have to use room-darkening window coverings and air conditioning to achieve this. Keep outside noise from disturbing your kids’ sleep by choosing the location of their bedrooms wisely. This is especially important in the summer months when you might want to sit outside and enjoy the wonderful long evenings. Your kids’ solid night of sleep is your reward!
TIP: You may want to keep the window coverings in the unoccupied bedroom drawn during especially the hottest days to help keep it cool and start the A/C 30 minutes before bedtime to save money on the electricity bill!
Tire Them Out
Summertime means around the clock stimuli for kids! From the running, jumping, swimming, the glare of the sun, and the endless pool time fun, those little minds and bodies will be worn out, which makes for the perfect storm at bedtime. The more tired they are, the more necessary a quiet mind before bedtime will be.
It all sounds so easy, does it not? Well, children are going to rebel every step of the way including the strange unset of hyperactivity right when they should be exhausted and sleepy! Fortunately, there are some amazing circadian rhythm tools to help kids and parents out for both daytime and nighttime! Coupled with how physically exhausting their summer days are the TrueDark Daylights and Twilights can help mitigate their energy levels and get everyone a good night of sleep!
TIP: Get fresh air! Take advantage of the long summer evenings by going for a walk or playing games outside after dinner as part of ‘family time’ and to hopefully wear them out. This would be an excellent time to start wearing sleep inducing eyewear to wind down their bodies and minds. Follow with the bedtime routine.
Do not skip naps even though it can be very difficult to tear kids away from fun in the sun. It is still important that kids of napping age continue to nap consistently even in the summer. Your kids may be getting even more physical activity during these summer months, so their bodies need time to recover and naptime is when some of that critical restoration happens. Most children need a nap to get the optimal total hours of sleep each day.
Additionally, it is important to nap earlier, rather than later in the afternoon. The longer you delay naptime, the longer they will push back bedtime. Everyone is greedy for those wonderful summer evening hours and will feel cheated if that late nap bleeds into the evening time.
If your kids are not nappers or if they fight it, insist on the option of quiet alone time in the middle of the day. Besides, it has the added benefit of getting them out of the sun during peak burning hours.
TIP: College kids even sleep during the day, especially during their first year. They should be encouraged to rest whenever possible. Note that if they seem excessively sleepy during the day, they may need to look into their sleeping issues if they are not keeping a reasonable schedule or are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Sun Wise and Heat Safe
Everyone has experienced sunburn and tried to sleep at night, it is nearly impossible. Your skin is overheated, sensitive to pressure and garments and/or bedding feel annoyingly scratchy. Make certain everyone is protected from the sun by using at least a 50 SPF sunblock, avoiding the direct sun (especially at peak hours) and wearing hats/protective clothing that’s rated with at least a UPF 30 rating. Never encourage the wearing of a cotton tee shirt while swimming….a wet tee shirt actually decreases UPF and can make sunburns worse.
We can’t talk about staying hydrated enough! If your body is dehydrated, you develop a dry mouth as well as other symptoms that might have an impact on sleep quality, such as muscle cramps. A glass of water at bedtime is a must after a long day in the sun, but make sure you and your kids are drinking water all day long, too!
TIP: Two of the best sunburn relief methods are aloe vera gel and calendula cream. Considering mixing these together in the palm of your hand before application for maximum benefit and a better night’s rest!
Children are not robots and they are not going to fall asleep on command! Give them the best possible tools and sleep environment. Rest assured that they will put themselves to sleep. As long as they are in their rooms, are quiet and can get up in the morning without upset, they will be fine. Make sleep a priority for everyone in your family and enjoy a wonderful summer!