Brighter, warmer and humid summer nights can make it more difficult to sleep, especially for babies and toddlers. With help from Millpond Sleep Clinic, we’ve put together these top tips to help your children sleep during warmer weather.
Stick to regular bed and wake-up times
Encouraging a regular time for sleeping and waking up helps to synchronise everyone’s body clock and children are no exception. Try to make sure they go to bed and wake up within an hour of the same time every day, including weekends. This helps everyone get into a healthy sleeping and waking routine.
Keep the bedroom cool
Warm temperatures can mean more time awake and lighter sleeping at night. The ideal temperature for a bedroom or nursery is around 18C. It can be tricky to keep cool indoors during the summer, so these tips may help:
Keep it dark
Everyone’s biological clock is regulated by light and brighter, lighter summer nights can make it difficult to trigger sleep time. To help, make sure your little one gets plenty of light during the day (though avoid too much direct sunlight). Then make sure their room is as dark as you can make it at night as darkness triggers the ‘sleepy hormone’ melatonin.
You may want to invest in a blackout blind, like the Gro Anywhere Blind to help block out early evening and bright morning light. And avoid things like televisions and computer screens which produce bright, artificial light at night.
Make time to relax
In the half hour before bedtime, encourage your little one to wind down and do something relaxing. Read or listen to a story together.
Stick to your guns
Be clear and consistent when it comes to a bedtime routine with your little one. When you say two stories, make sure you mean it. If your child knows what to expect, they’re less likely to argue.
Establish a bedtime routine
About 30 minutes before your child’s bedtime, do the following:
Choose the right bedtime snacks
If your toddler wants a bedtime snack, choose foods such as banana, warm milk, oat biscuits, whole grain cereals, eggs or chicken. These kinds of foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan which is thought to encourage drowsiness.
Encourage outdoor exercise
Research has shown that increased physical exercise can help promote sleep. Toddlers are normally pretty keen to be active, so playing outdoors for 20-30 minutes three or four times a week can help encourage them to sleep. But try not to engage in too much energetic exercise within three hours of bedtime.
Children love to know when they’ve done something right, so praise them every morning when they’ve kept to the sleep ‘rules’. You can encourage them with a special trip or small reward.
This advice has been adapted from tips written my Millpond founder Mandy Gurney and first published in Prima Baby magazine.