School is out and summer holidays are here! Whether you plan on taking a staycation, or heading off on a family holiday, you may already be dreading the nights that lie ahead of you.
Many adults and children become very anxious when they consider the idea of being ‘out of their sleep routine’ for a few weeks. Most parents’ mental health rests on their young children’s predictable sleep schedule – kids asleep = work day is over.
A recent article in the UK’s telegraph has gathered holiday sleep tips from various experts. Here our own Sealy sleep expert, Roxanne Atkinson, examines their advice and offers her own wise counsel.
Summer holidays are made of dripping ice-creams, squishing sand between your toes and enjoying the warm sun on your back. Well, at least that is how we remember summer holidays from our childhoods.
For parents, summer holidays can bring to the surface an interesting tension-
- parents want to make lasting memories with their children; and
- parents want a chance to relax and recharge.
The good news is that a change of scenary and lack of tight school and work schedules can offer a chance to bond. The bad news is that if the whole family is struggling to sleep, you are pretty much guaranteed tears and tantrums… and I am not just talking about the parents here!
Follow these five sleep protection principles to give your kids enough Zzzzzz.
- Let nature guide their sleep-wake cycle
Encourage your children to rise close to sunrise and sleep close to sunset. Yes, I know you want to sleep in, but this may not be feasible. Get to the beach or hotel pool early and the swimming and sea air should equal an afternoon nap. This is great as it keeps you out of the dangerous midday sun and your children will remain buoyant and bouncy until sunset. No naps? You just won yourself an easy evening. Get dinner sorted early because your kids are bound to fall into bed earlier than usual.
- Make their sleep environment comfortable
Summer brings with it high temperatures and plenty of nocturnal insects. Arm yourself with a room fan, mozzie net and/or insect repellant to protect their precious sleep. If you can, request a room with air conditioning and set the room temperature to a temperate 21 degrees celsius.
- Recreate their home sleep environment
If you co-sleep at home, co-sleep on holiday. If you use a cot, find a cot for your baby to sleep in that resembles their one at home. If your toddler or child have their own rooms, try and find a way to recreate this. You may need to put up a screen to block them off and recreate their sleep space. Don’t forget to pack your baby monitor (or download a baby monitor app to your smart phone) so that you can rest assured that babe is safe.
- Make the most of your evenings away
If you are lucky enough to have a deep sleeper, then you may be able to do some adult evening adventures using your pram or sling. After doing their normal sleep routine, pop them in the pram/sling/car seat and see if you can enjoy a few hours out while your babe is in their first and deepest sleep phase. Could you create a ‘bad habit’? Perhaps, but hopefully the memories last longer.
- Use positive sleep associations
Vacation is probably not the best time to try and go without a sleep crutch such as a dummy or favourite stuffed toy. Pack your baby or child’s favourite bear, blankie and bottle… or even better, pack in a spare if you can!
Here’s to great sleep on your family holiday.