School is out, the days are longer, visitors are arriving to enjoy our wonderful beach living, and you are trying to fit in your own family vacations. So it’s no wonder that summer can be a time when we all find ourselves a little short on sleep.
We all know how we feel when we haven’t had enough sleep, a bit “sluggish” the next day; having a hard time concentrating and getting our work done; and maybe a bit more irritable than usual. And it’s truly important that we remember that our kids need way more sleep than we do—an average of 10 or 11 hours each night for kids up to 10 years old.
If you want to make sure that your child gets enough sleep to feel healthy and enjoy these lazy days, read on.
- Higher temperatures can interfere with sleep and keep your child awake. Some suggestions from the National Sleep Foundation are:
- Give your child a shower or bath to relax and cool
off before bed.
- Change the crib/bed sheets to lightweight, cool cotton.
- Keep the bedrooms cooler during the day.
- Control humidity with an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
2. Earlier sunrise and later sunset equals longerhours of daylight. This can interfere with your child’s natural inclination to become drowsy as darkness falls. Make sure you are able to darken bedrooms with curtains or shades, and begin bedtime routines in a dimly lit room.
3. The great weather and long days encourages outdoor entertaining, and your neighbors may not realize how their voices and music carries into open windows. Curtains will help with the light and the noise, but you might also find that a white noise machine is helpful in your baby’s room.
4. Increased amounts of TV watching might be tempting, but all the latest research is clear: TV within an hour of sleep interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, so children don’t “unwind” as easily for sleep.
5. You’ve worked hard and planned the perfect family vacation, but travel can encourage all of us to forget our normal routines and enjoy more late night activities. Sometimes you are even trying to cope with the effects of jet lag and changing time zones. It will be harder to get back to reality when you return, if your child’s schedule has varied more than an hour (max 2 hours). It’s important to remember that a healthy sleep routine for your child includes both bedtime and wake-up time. If your summer schedule has slid toward later bedtimes and later wake-ups, don’t forget to ease back into the routine as the summer ends. An abrupt transition will be too difficult and result in tears, frustration, and an overtired child beginning school in the fall.
6. Spring is not the only culprit for allergy sufferers. Summer pollen, grass, and ragweed will cause increased congestion, which leads to interrupted sleep. Consult your pediatrician if you feel that your child is showing signs of summer allergies. According to the National Sleep Foundation, allergies can cause a lack of sleep, and then a lack of sleep can actually make allergies worse. You will definitely want to break the cycle, so if you suspect allergies you can try some proactive steps:
- Use an air purifier, and keep the windows closed especially in the morning to shut the pollen out.
- Clean and change your child’s sheets frequently to reduce exposure to pollen and dust mites.
- The bedtime bath and shampoo will remove the pollen clinging to your baby’s skin and hair.
Of course, not all sleep problems will be fixed by these suggestions. Some families have year-round struggles with difficult bedtimes or frequent night wakings with their baby or toddler.
Call today if you need someone to talk with. I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, member of the Association of Professional Sleep Coaches, and trained by Kim West L-CSW, aka The Sleep Lady, author of Good Night Sleep Tight. I can help you understand the reasons why your baby or young child is struggling to get a good night’s sleep. One out our every four families has sleep problems. Let’s solve yours together.
If you are one of those families, you have probably heard that you should let your child cry it out, or that children outgrow it. But those out-dated notions don’t help at 2 a.m. I will meet with you and help you decide on a soothing, gentle, and gradual solution that is just right for you and your child; and, most importantly, I will continue to support you by phone and emails while you make the changes in your personal plan. Most children can learn independent and uninterrupted sleep in just a few weeks.
This will be one of the best decisions you can make for your family. Better sleep is not just a dream!
For more information, you can visit www.goodnightchild.com or call 760-710-7366.
Future posts will explore some of the most common reasons
why your child does not sleep through the night, and some tips you can begin
immediately to improve bedtime in your house.
Mary Riggs is the mother of 3 amazing daughters, and one
perfect granddaughter, who is a wonderful sleeper at 13 months. After many years of supporting and guiding
infants, toddlers, and their families as a Montessori teacher, Mary and her
husband recently moved to North County San Diego. She has brought with her years of experience
and caring advice, and has already begun improving the sleep of many young
families here. You can learn more at her