With summer vacation around the corner, parents of young children can safely assume that their family’s daily and nightly schedules are going to experience a bit of a shake-up. When kids are out of school, they are no longer following the regimented schedules to which they have become accustomed. This can become difficult for implementing a regular summer bedtime.
According to an article published in Pediatrics, The Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, children who don’t have a fixed bedtime show more behavioral problems than those who go to bed at the same time every night. Authors Yvonne Kelly PhD, John Kelly BEng, and Amanda Sacker PhD looked at the links between disturbed sleep and behavioural problems in children between the ages of three and seven. The results of the study showed that children with varied sleep times may also experience behavioural problems including hyperactivity, conduct problems, problems interacting with peers and emotional difficulties if sleep continues to be varied.
The good news is, according to the research findings, “The effect of having a non-regular bedtime appears to be reversible: For children who changed from not having to having, regular bedtimes, there were improvements in behavioral scores.” http://bit.ly/1BJsZc8
As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist and the mom to four children, I know you can’t manage day after day with little or no sleep. Sleep schedules in childhood are influenced by a variety of biological and social influences. Routines are essential in ensuring healthy sleep. Unfortunately these routines do not always come easy. Working together with parents, I set in place age appropriate naps, bedtime and sleep routines. I develop a sleep plan that is in line with the parent’s goals and parenting philosophy, and provide daily support while the plan is implemented.
So how can your family implement a regular bedtime during the summer?
By making adjustments to meal times you can encourage an earlier bedtime. During the summer months it can be very easy for our days to get away from us and for meals to get pushed back to a later time. Do your best to keep your child’s meal schedules consistent and not have them eat a big meal right before bedtime or naptime.
Choose a sleep friendly bedtime snack
According to the National Sleep Foundation, proteins from the food we eat are the building blocks of tryptophan, which makes us sleepy. Therefore, the best bedtime snack is one that contains both a carbohydrate and protein.
Use a sound machine
During the summer months the sun may still be up when your child goes to bed. There is also a good chance your neighbors are outside enjoying the weather when your child is trying to fall asleep. A white noise machine is best. There are some machines that play lullabies or nature sounds, but often these end up being a stimulant. A white noise machine is non-stimulating and very good at blocking noises from inside and out.
Don’t forget naptime
When families are enjoying summer activities or traveling on vacation it can be difficult to schedule in naptimes. An overtired child can find it difficult to fall asleep at night. Do your best to ensure your child continues their regular naptime during the summer months.
Every child is different, therefore each family experiences their own unique sleep worries. I am happy to work with parents one on one to help provide more specific advice for their specific case. You can review my Sleep Success Plans for additional information.
Please let me know if you found this article helpful.
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland.