Sleep is important in helping children grow and thrive. During the summer, it can be tricky to get your kids to sleep each night, but creating a healthy summer sleep routine can help your children in a variety of ways. It can also help you avoid stress. To improve your children’s sleep routine this summer, try these simple tips:
Keep a Regular Schedule
It can be tempting to let your kids stay up late during the summer, but studies show that a regular sleep schedule is essential to helping kids get enough sleep. Set a bedtime, and don’t allow children to stray too far from it. Make sure they start to unwind a couple of hours before it’s time to get into bed, and then be sure to wake them up on time in the mornings. Sticking to their normal bedtime and wake-up schedule during the summer will also make getting back to school less stressful when the break is over.
Make Their Bedroom Sleep-Friendly
If your kids are having trouble getting to sleep at night, it may be time to re-evaluate their bedrooms. Make sure that bedrooms are set up to encourage sleep. Keep any doors to the hallway, closets or other rooms shut when kids are trying to fall asleep. Reduce the amount of light coming into the room to promote restful, deep sleep. If you notice your child is staying up too late, it may be time to remove screens from the bedroom. Blue light emitted from screen time can cause distractions when it’s time to sleep, and clutter can interfere with bedtime. Both are good reasons to remove screens from your child’s bedroom.
Make Sure They Get Activity During the Day
Kids need to get up and play to be tired enough to sleep at night, so don’t allow your kids to only watch videos and hang out on the couch during their summer break. Get them up and outside to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. Plan some fun backyard activities, like a scavenger hunt or starting a garden, to encourage them to stay active. If you’re stuck at work, look into area day camps and activities that will help them burn off some of that excess energy.
Avoid Late-Night Meals and Snacks
Eating a big meal late in the evening can make it difficult for children to fall asleep. Try to plan dinner for at least a few hours before bedtime. For those family movie nights and late-night snacks, stick with high-protein, healthy options that won’t keep them up. Also be aware of hidden caffeine in foods. Chocolate, a favorite for snacking, actually contains a small amount of caffeine that can have an effect on sleep, so steer clear of chocolate and other sugary snacks at night.
Cut Out Caffeine
Avoiding caffeine at night is common sense for quality sleep. But if you notice your kids have trouble getting to bed at night, you may want to cut out caffeine altogether. There are also additional benefits to eliminating caffeine from your children’s diet. Soda, the most common culprit of caffeine for kids, is loaded with nearly three times the recommended amount of sugar, so cutting sodas out will help your kids stay healthy as well.
Keep Your House and Bedrooms Cool
Summer means warmer temperatures, and that can make it harder to fall asleep. Studies show that the optimal temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 65 degrees, so if your home is warmer than that, you may need to find ways to adjust the temperature. Use fans to cool off children in their rooms, but be careful when using fans in rooms where babies sleep. To keep them cool, replace heavy bedding with lighter options during the summer.
Creating a healthy summer sleep routine can mean more rest for your kids and less stress for you. It will also help your children feel better during the school year and maintain good health. Make it a goal to get your kids to bed this summer, and help them get the sleep they need to thrive.
Julia created befriendyourdoc.org to share tips she has developed to help patients be their own advocate in seeking medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and contributing to their own health and well-being. Please visit her site at befriendyourdoc.org
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