Helping children stick to a sleep schedule that supports quality rest throughout the summer holidays

Ensuring that your child understands and cooperates with set routines can be difficult at the best of times, and many of us will remember all too well the long and often testing evenings we have spent working to get our children to stick to a specific bedtime routine. The summer holidays offer an opportunity for exciting activities and a break from the usual day to day, however with this can often come disruption to routine. Whilst the opportunity to stay up past their usual bedtime and sleep in late the next day can be an exciting prospect for younger children, this behaviour can actually be relatively troublesome to your child’s sleeping pattern.

It’s important for everyone to get rest, but quality slumber is even more important in children. Various studies have shown that children who get regular, quality sleep have improved attention, better behaviour, and a more positive outcome in terms of both mental and physical health.

The summer holidays fall right in the middle of British Summer Time which means that as well as the general routine disruption, parents also have to contend with the affects of lighter nights and mornings and the potential for an increase in temperature, which too can cause disorder when it comes to children’s sleeping patterns. Knowing how much sleep your child needs is also extremely important in ensuring a sleep routine is successful. As a general rule, toddlers require around 12 hours of sleep a night, children between the ages of four to six require between 10.5-11.5 hours and six to twelve year olds need up to 10 hours of sleep each night.

Whilst keeping a sleep routine over summer can be tough, by persisting with specific processes in place, back to school in September should be a doddle. Here are five ways to support your child’s sleep routine throughout the summer months.

Have a regular wake up time

Waking up at different times each day can be troublesome to children, so it’s important to ensure they are getting up at the same time each day. Having a regular wake up time is important in strengthening your child’s body clock, and can also support both healthy, and good quality sleep. If the sound of your regular alarm fills you with dread, consider changing the tone throughout the summer holidays to something a little lighter and gentler.

Have a relaxing pre-bed period

Too many activities close to bedtime can wreak havoc with your child’s ability to both fall and stay asleep. There has been substantial evidence over recent years to suggest that screen time before bed can inhibit sleep, due to the blue light emitted from the likes of iPads and televisions. Schedule in some down time an hour or so leading up to your child’s bedtime, whether that’s taking the time to read a bedtime story or helping them have a warm pre-sleep bath.

Keep the temperature stable

We all know how difficult sleep can be in a hot and stuffy room, and the summer months can bring this challenge in abundance. If your child is waking up in the night, chances are they could be overheating. Children are most comfortable in rooms that are between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, and anything above this can cause potential discomfort. By keeping the curtains closed and windows open throughout the day, you’re able to block out some of the strongest rays of sunshine and welcome in any possible breeze, therefore keeping retained heat to a minimum. It’s also sensible to consider the bedding your child is sleeping in, natural materials such as cotton have moisture-wicking properties and make for a cooler bedtime.

Make the room as dark as possible

Whilst longer days and lighter nights are great for getting out and about and enjoying more of what the summer has to offer, the addition of bright light can cause chaos with children’s sleep routines. Thicker curtains and blackout blinds are an excellent way of ensuring that your child’s room is as dark as possible for as long as possible and should prove a useful solution in sticking to a summer sleep routine. Heavy window treatments such as the readymade eyelet curtains from Terrys Fabrics  are also much more successful at blocking out the midday heat, meaning less chance of an increase in room temperature.

Don’t worry too much!

If you’re struggling to stick to a routine, whether that’s due to being in a different time zone or due to external activities, don’t worry too much! Children are relatively resilient and are able to adapt to new and different environments over time, but they’re also fantastic at getting back into a routine, as long as you plan in advance. If your routine has broken down over the summer holidays, plan to gradually implement a step-by-step process that will ensure by the first week of school, you’re back in regular order.

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Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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