As the summer months quickly approach we spoke to Vicki Dawson, CEO and Founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity, about her top tips to help your child sleep better in the warmer weather.
Research has shown that it takes longer to fall asleep and stay asleep if we are too warm. Ideally the bedroom temperature should be around 16 to 18 degrees, the challenge is keeping it at this consistent temperature throughout the night, so here are some tips to help.
• Close the curtains or blinds during the day to stop heat building up in the room, keep the window shut until the temperature outside is cooler, then open it.
• A cold flannel dabbed on the head and feet can help to reduce body temperature.
• A cool bath or shower is also helpful as part of your child’s bedtime routine
• Think about your choice of bedding carefully, is it appropriate for the warmer weather? Is bedding even necessary? Slumbersac sleeping bags ensure babies and toddlers remain at a constant temperature, eliminating the need for any other top covers, blankets or duvets, resulting in a safe and comfortable night’s sleep. They are also made of 100% jersey cotton, making them ideal for warmer weather.
Light and darkness play a huge role in supporting better sleep patterns. Our body clocks are regulated by light and dark. Darkness supports our bodies to make the sleep hormone called ‘melatonin’. Here are some tips to help:
• An hour before bedtime close the curtains and blinds to make the room dimly lit
• Avoid any screen activities in the hour before bedtime. The light from screens such as tablets, phones and televisions can supress the sleep hormone, melatonin making it more difficult for your child to nod off.
• Consider blackout blinds and/or black out curtains for your child’s bedroom. If they are afraid of the dark then invest in a nightlight that has a soft glow and can be safely left on throughout the night. Turning nightlights off after your child has fallen asleep can actually mean that they will waken during the night feeling confused and disorientated as you’ve changed their sleeping conditions.
• In the morning open the curtains and let the daylight stream into the room, this helps to strengthen your child’s body clock.
• Avoid using language around light and dark to indicate bedtime. For example saying ‘it’s dark, it’s time for bed’ in the winter will only lead to loud protests during summer months about bedtime! Instead always use the time of day, ‘it’s night time, it’s time for bed’.
• A set piece of music played at the same time each night can be helpful for children to understand the time of day and predict more easily the next part of their routine.
• It can be helpful to give children a way of checking whether it is morning time, after all how many times do you wake in the night and check the clock? A lamp on a timer switch can be useful and teach them that if the light is off then it is sleep time, if the light is on then it is morning.
Sleep Med Rev. 2008 Aug;12(4):307-17. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2008.02.003.
The relationship between insomnia and body temperatures.
Lack LC1, Gradisar M, Van Someren EJ, Wright HR, Lushington K.