The sweet days of spring are getting longer, and you aren’t the only one noticing. As kids transition from the long indoor nights of winter to the exercise and fresh air from playing outside, their sleep routine can actually be affected in a negative way. This time of year, it’s always a good idea to review sleep tips and tricks for your little ones. Here are a few ideas directly from moms across the country:
1. Start the process early.
Children rarely begin preparing their minds for sleep on their own, so it’s important that parents take an active role in bedtime best practices long before their heads hit the pillow. Set the tone early in the evening by cutting off all sugar at least two hours before bedtime. Rough housing (aka cardio) should be over for the day at least an hour and a half before bedtime. These two simple rules allow a child’s body and mind start slowing down in preparation for sleep.
2. Create a routine.
Simple evening routines like washing up and brushing teeth become subtle bedtime cues over time. Face-to-face time with your child helps you manage the mood and tone of the evening while establishing a sense of importance to the bedtime process, which is one of the reasons that the “bedtime story” has been a time-tested winner for sleep success.
3. Stay on schedule.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule for your child during the summer months can be difficult. The days are longer, the activities are plentiful, and time off from the schedule of school often times means less morning responsibilities. This not only benefits the kiddos but will help you as a working parent maintain normalcy in the household schedule, as well.
4. Be prepared.
The bedroom should be a place of calm in the evenings. Set a curfew for electronics in your little one’s sleep sanctuaries. Make sure there is water on the nightstand. Eliminate clutter, light, and noise from the space as much as possible and regulate the heat of a hot summer night with a fan for a soft breeze. However you prepare your child’s bedroom for sleep, do it early in the evening so that they can focus on sleep from the moment they head to bed.
Of course, the spring sleep phenomena doesn’t just affect children. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our sleep needs drastically change from newborns (14 to 17 hours a day) to older adults over 65 (7 to 8 hours). Most young and middle age adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function at peak efficiency. Keeping yourself on a regular schedule of proper sleep not only sets an example for your children, but helps you be prepared for the activity-packed days of summer that lie ahead.