5 Summer Sleep Tips for Parents

5 Summer Sleep Tips for Parents

Fact: kids just...resist sleeping in summer.

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the longer days. Maybe it’s the lack of structure; as bedtime routines are stretched and relaxed to accommodate schedules turned upside down by the summer break.

Whatever the reason the next generation grows mysteriously sleep-adverse as the mercury rises, it can be frustrating [read: infuriating].

But you're not alone.

To help you ensure your mini-mes get a good night’s rest – and you get some valuable downtime – we’ve tapped into age-old parental wisdom and conjured up some practical summer sleep tips.

So, whether you’re jetting off to even sunnier climes, or enjoying a peaceful staycation, consult our guide for a summer holiday routine you can rely on.

Child sleeping in summer

Make Sure They're Well-Rested

Stating the obvious? Possibly. Does it need stating? Definitely.

As a parent, you've likely encountered the tiny rage-monster that is the overtired child. Signs include:

    Tantrums
    Tantrums
    Tantrums

That's not a typo. It just needed to be fully emphasised.

Joking aside, while adults are capable of shrugging off the need to sleep for significant periods of time, kids build up sleep debt quickly and significantly. And it’s massively exacerbated by travel – whether by car, train, or plane.

As such, if you’re setting off on your travels this summer, it’s crucial that your children are well-rested before the journey begins. Think of it like this: if you know your sleep is going to be disrupted, by a social or work event, you’re likely to snag a supplementary snooze or two beforehand.

And the same principal applies to the little ones. So, for an enjoyable excursion, make sure the kids are getting high-quality sleep in the week leading up to the trip – especially in the preceding 24 hours.

Need a sure-fire solution for seamless travel? Take advantage of naptime.

Travel can be highly stimulating for children, so it’s possible that they’ll be too excited (read: totally wired) to sleep. But, if you schedule a strategic siesta for shortly before you set off, your child will be rejuvenated and ready to travel.

FYI: This is especially true for morning naps, which are the most restorative, according to this article by Baby Sleep Site. Though you might be tempted to get an early start to get travel over with sooner, it can pay to wait until after your little one's first nap of the day, as it will curb any overtiredness later.

Routines are your Friend

Whether you’re planning to stay on home soil or set off to soak up far-off sights, one constant remains: kids need routine.

You see, children are steeped in routine, living their entire lives by some schedule or other. So, it’s only natural that if these routines are removed, they’ll experience confusion, frustration, or anxiety – each posing a risk to sleep.

So, no matter where you are, the second of our summer sleep tips is to stick as closely to established routines as possible.

It might be a story before lights out. It might be a bath before the story. It might even be kid’s yoga. Whatever their routine, sticking to it will add familiarity and signal to your little one’s brain that it’s time to wind down.

In short, their summer holiday routine should be as close to their regular routine as is possible.

Be Consistent with Naptimes

A sister tip to our previous entry, but the importance of maintaining a familiar routine for summer holidays cannot be overstated.

Parents, we hear you: you want to squeeze every drop out of summer, whether home or away. And it can be tempting to achieve this by simply powering through, shunning siestas in favour of seeing the sights.

But, parents, hear us: skipping a snooze will lead to the build-up of sleep debt. And, as we’ve established, little one’s aren’t as adept at overriding slumber’s pull as we are.

And so, it’s important to stick to regularly schedule naptimes – structuring your day around them wherever possible. And, if skipping a nap is unavoidable, try to compensate with a lighter schedule the following day and earlier bedtime to offset any exhaustion your little one may be feeling.

Be Mindful of Time Differences

For kids, sleeping in summer can be difficult enough (there’s just so much to do!), but the addition of time differences can be truly destabilising to sleep routines.

So, if you’re holidaying in foreign time zones – whether they’re ahead or behind – you’ll need to help your kids adjust.

If you’re traveling somewhere a few hours ahead, it’s important to slowly transition your kids into this new model, which is best done before you leave.

But how? Well… subtly. Simply research how far ahead you’ll be and begin modifying your child’s sleeping (and eating) routine by fifteen minutes per day, every day.

That said, the duration of your trip plays a factor here, and if you’re only entering a new time zone for a few days, it’s usually better to maintain the same routine that you follow at home, as you may find it difficult to switch back and forth so quickly.

If you’re entering a time that’s many hours ahead – making the above adjustment near-impossible – it’s best practice to get your little one into the routine from day one of the trip.

Try to wake your child as early as possible in the new time zone, then aim for their usual nap and bedtimes at the local time.

The truth? It’ll be rough at first, but they’ll adapt. It’s just a matter of patience and understanding as they orient themselves.

Research Accommodation in Advance

If you’re planning a trip, no matter the duration, file the last of our summer sleep tips under the ‘make or break category’.

Unless they’re tiny, your kids are likely used to sleeping in their own rooms, so it can be challenging to get them settled when everyone is piled into a single hotel room. (Cue: 2am games of eye-spy.)

And so, before you even book your plane tickets, it’s worthwhile doing some research into the types of accommodation available and choosing something that benefits everyone.

For example, hiring a villa or hotel room with separate bedrooms can go a long way towards maintaining your regular sleep set-up. Which, essentially, is the thread connecting each of our summer sleep tips.

But don’t fret if only one room is available; it’s still possible to offer kids a sense of personal space by booking somewhere with additional beds or pull-out cots.

Note: For babies, position a travel cot away from your own sleeping spot, though you should make sure your hotel has one available before you arrive.

Child sleeping in parents bed

Everyone’s mileage will differ, but if you’re looking for better quality sleep this summer, for you and your kids, keep our tips in mind.

For more great sleep tips, explore our blog, as well as our advice centre.

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