Ah summer, that great time of year when even the sun wants to stay up late. Along with beach time and tans, those of you with children or teens in the home are probably used to a barrage of “but I’m not tired yet” even with the more relaxed sleep schedule. This inevitably comes with your child’s multi-month cessation of school and study hours. Even you may even be feeling the same way. This isn’t just because summers are fun and the weather, for most places, lends itself to going out and being more social. This is more likely because our bodies use light as our number one cue to wake up and fall asleep. The sun being up so many more hours a day and, in some places, staying in the sky until even ten o’clock at night, tells our systems to be awake that entire time. That means no serotonin for us until that big ball of gas decides to call it a night.
This is especially hard for children and teens who are no longer bound to wake up at the crack of dawn. Sticking to a school sleep schedule during the summer is unrealistic, not to mention the likelihood that your children would probably start calling you a drill sergeant if you did. However, it is possible to keep their sleep/wake cycle within a couple hours of their school time. This just means you’ll have to be solid and consistent with their bedtimes. If you have problems with them trying to always bargain for a later bedtime, just tell them one a half an hour earlier and let them negotiate to where you wanted it to begin with. I know, sneaky, but they’ll think you’re being more than reasonable. Besides, if they get into the habit of sleeping until noon, then you’ll have your hands full come summer’s end. With teenagers it’s a little more difficult. Getting a teenager to bed before they’re ready is like, well, dealing with a teenager. You can still set a curfew for media and devices, albeit a more difficult task with each passing year. Combine this with dimming the lights and if light is an issue, blackout curtains. This will allow your teenager to start finding more downtime things to do and get them away from that wakeful blue light of screens.
Another way to mitigate the back to school transition at the end of summer is to plan ahead. Begin to adjust your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few days toward the end of summer to get them back to the early wake time. Also, to make sure each person in your house gets enough sleep throughout the summer, you can notice when each child, teen or adult begins to be ready for sleep on their own and emphasize not waking other’s up in the mornings. Some may be early risers and some a little later. If they’re allowed to wake at their natural times it shouldn’t cut into their necessary, sleep time. Lastly, during the summer, realize that, if your kids aren’t sleeping well it may be something they’re not yet aware of enough to articulate. For instance, you’ll want to sleep ideally in temperatures in the low 70s. If a child is too hot at night causing restless sleep, they may only notice that they’re irritable and not realize they’re too hot at night. A way to combat this is to choose a light blanket such as the Classic Ultra Light Down Blanket, that will keep them warm but not too warm.
In close, while summer time can be a bit disruptive to your children’s sleep, with a little bit of steadfastness and planning, you can nip this summer sleep stuff in the bud.