When the days are long and the sun doesn’t set until long after your child’s bedtime, sticking to a routine can be tough! We love to play until the sun sets, but the little monsters that wake up the next day can be tough on family fun! While we totally give up some nights and enjoy the evening sun, most nights we get our kids in the sack at the regular time, 7 p.m. This gives my husband and me time to ourselves, something that is very important for our marriage. It also gives our kids the rest they need. Do they always fall asleep right away? No. Are they still a million times calmer than when left to be crazy until 10 p.m.? Yes. And they are happier the next day.
Tips for Sticking to Bedtime Throughout the Year
1. Have a Routine to Begin With
A bedtime routine is important because it gives kids the right signals as the snoozing hour approaches. Bath time, teeth brushing, books, songs, kisses and good nights. That is our basic routine and it does not change with the weeks or the seasons because our kids respond to this schedule. When we leave something out or are rushing to bed, their little bodies do not seem as calm and more often than not they protest at bedtime. By protest I mean they throw screaming fits. Not fun.
2. Play Hard
My kids are tired at the end of the day because we keep busy. They have camp and they run around outside. We slather the sunscreen on and sweat our tushies off to play. We have dance parties and build forts inside. We go on field trips. We just stay pretty busy. It really helps to have them ready for bed when bedtime comes.
The reason I emphasize this? Well, when it gets hot and we want to stay inside, inevitable the requests for technology start rolling in. They want to play with the iPad or the computer or watch a television show. If left to their own devices in 90 degree heat, they would play Temple Run Brave all freaking day. Guess what? They wouldn’t be very tired at bedtime.
3. Limit Electronics Before Bed
Kids love the iPad or whatever device they can get their hands on. While it may seem to calm them down because they are no longer running around like wild things while they are playing, exposure to the light from screens can prevent sleep. Uh oh!
…Scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to light with short wavelengths—in particular, blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, and also by energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling charged past bedtime.
So even if they are reading and learning on that glowing device,consider shelving it an hour or so before bed to let their little brains relax.
4. Let There NOT be Light
It’s true, as it gets darker our brain tells us it is bedtime. Using dim lights before bed in a child’s room and curtains to block any bright rays of sun can help ease their bodies into sleep and prevent them from waking up thinking it is morning. For us, we still eave the closet light on in the girls room because they have a fear of not being able to see in there. It does not prevent them from falling asleep, but I always wish it was a little darker. Many kids need some form of night light. That’s fine. Just eliminating major sources of light can really help.
5. Cool Rooms Make for Better Sleep
It can be tough to hit the hay when the sun is out and heating up the bedroom. In hot months, a child’s bedtime may come before the cooler air. Research shows that people sleep best in about 65 degrees. That is MUCH cooler than we keep our house at during the day, but I have found that turning on the air a few minutes before bedtime helped a lot. We turn it to about 70 degrees and our kids sleep in shorts and t-shirts. Everyone has their own temperature, but if your child is sweating before bedtime it may be hard for them to go to sleep. If you cannot put on the air, consider using a fan to cool the room and be sure that they are sleeping on lightweight cotton sheets. It can also help a lot to use curtains to keep the sun out when they are not playing in their room during the day.
6. Do a Comfort Check
It is not just grown ups that care about the bed they sleep in. Kids are impacted by comfort just as we are and should be sleeping on a mattress that supports their body and provides a comfy place to spend 10 or so hours. Yes, we spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed. Sleep is so very important throughout our lives. It is worth making it good.
I was surprised when my husband and I got our new Serta iComfort mattress and the kids kept begging to be in it. They thought it was more comfortable than their beds and we wound up forced out of our bed a number of times. Guess what? When we laid on their mattress it made sense. Oh my holy uncomfortable. We have never slept better than on our new mattress.
We went to our local America’s Mattress to try out every Serta bed they had and lo and behold…what they didn’t like was the bumps on a traditional mattress. All 3 of them preferred the smooth surface that a memory foam mattress like the iComfort provides. I totally get it. Once you sleep on one you are hooked! We are so blessed because Serta provided my kids with these mattresses and now they are happy as clams!
A new mattress is expensive and should be a well researched purchase. Buying a mattress for your kids to last throughout their childhood will provide better sleep for them (and you) for years to come! Any mattress store you go to should have knowledgeable folks there to tell you about all of your options.
If you cannot afford to purchase a new mattress, consider a mattress topper to make your child’s bed (or your own) more comfortable. For us, both the memory foam and the latex mattresses provided the smooth surface we all love. We tried them all and spoke to the sales guy for an hour, making sure that the beds we chose were right for our kids.
The point is, ask your kids what they like and remember that everyone has their own comfort zone for sleep. Trust your kids if they tell you their bed is not comfy and ask them to tell you why. Then you can try to help them have a better night’s sleep.
If you are curious about the iComfort, you can check out all of its awesome features on Serta’s website.
7. Don’t Freak Out
In the summer there is light and there will be nights when your kids just aren’t that tired. Our bedtime routine ends with the kids in their beds with their closet lights on. The girls have the Tinkerbell soundtrack on quietly and each of them has items they take to bed. Sophia has a hair brush and her dolls. Violet sleeps with a mass of Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony dolls. Miles has his Blue Puppy and his lovies and always a few dinosaur books. We don’t worry if we hear whispers from the girls’ room or the pitter patter of Miles’ feet as he gets a new book. As long as they are in their beds trying to relax, settle down, and go to sleep, we are happy. Just like us, some kids fall asleep right away and others take awhile. Allowing quiet reading or play in their beds eliminates some huge temper fits that would only excite them further and helps to make for a quiet house…the perfect environment to fall asleep.
Have Sleep Questions? I Can Help.
I hope these tips help you make and keep a bedtime for your kids throughout the year. I am working with Serta again this year and they have a relationship with the uber awesome National Sleep Foundation. If you have questions about your sleep or your child’s please ask them and I will scurry off to get your answer. How cool is that?
Win an iComfort Sleep System from Serta
I gave on away earlier this year and Serta is doing it again in their Smarter. Cooler. Better Summer Sweepstakes. The contest ends August 4th so you still have time to head on over to Serta’s Facebook Page and click on that tab to enter. How cool would that be?
If you love Pinterest you will even get lots of extra entries participants earn 3 additional entries for creating their own iComfort Smarter. Cooler. Better. Summer board on Pinterest PLUS 5 additional entries for uploading a photo of themselves or a friend/family member trying the iComfort at their local retailer. Serta will select one lucky winner to receive an iComfort Sleep System of their choice plus four lucky winners to receive a set of iComfort Pillows.
The bed rocks. The pillows rock. Go now!
If you have other tips please share them in the comments. Good luck getting your bedtime routine to stick for the summer!
Disclosure: I am compensated for my work as a Serta Ambassador for 2012 and was provided with iComfort mattresses for my family. We honestly adore them. The bees knees in mattresses. These opinions are all my own.