Summer is HERE! Let the fun begin! Depending on where you live, summer goes by quickly, and we all want to enjoy every drop! There is a lot to look forward to like longer days, parties, vacations, daytime outings, and weekend celebrations. As fun and busy as summer can be, sleep often takes a big hit. So how can we safely protect our sleep during this very busy time of the year?

Here are some of my top tips to safely protect your family’s sleep.

1. Keeping the sleep environment dark! In the summer, the sun comes up early and stays up late! If you have little ones, you may be extra aware of this. Sunshine is like an alarm clock and turns off the sleep hormone melatonin. I recommend blackout shades! Blackout shades are a terrific way to stop those early morning wakeups.

Bonus tip - Keep the shades drawn in as well to keep the room cooler. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, being overheated can raise the risk of SIDS.

2. Keep the Room Comfortable! None of us sleep comfortably if they are too hot/warm. I suggest keeping the room between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-22 degrees Celsius. It is often hard to tell if a baby is too hot or cold as each child is different. Some children run hot, and some run cold. If you are unsure, place your hand on the back of their neck or under the front of their PJs, touching their skin. If they are sweating, take a layer off. We all sleep better when we are cooler! Use a fan or air conditioner for comfort.

Bonus tip - Give your child a lukewarm or cool bath in the evening. This will start out the night in comfort.

3. Use a white noise machine! This helps minimize the outside noises. Let’s face it! There is a lot of extra noise outside of your child’s bedroom during the summertime. Neighbors having parties, having company over, and even fireworks. Keeping the outside noises outside will allow for fewer sleep disruptions.

Bonus tip - If it is extra noisy, you might even want to use more than one method to diminish the outside noises. You can use a sound machine near the window and have an air conditioner or fan to help minimize the outside summer fun. 

4. Keep your baby on schedule as much as possible. On days that you are not out and about, you will want to keep on track with your child’s nap and bedtime schedule. This will help keep your child’s sleep tank full before your special events and outings. If you go into those special events with a well-rested child, they will be happier and have the ability to be flexible if they miss a nap or go to bed a little later.

Bonus tip - Keeping your child’s schedule as consistent as you can also help them get back on track easier when life does happen!

5. Dress for success! I suggest using natural fabrics such as cotton or bamboo for pajamas, sleep sacks, and bedding! Also, choose lighter clothing and layer appropriately for the warmer weather if your room is warm, but keep in mind that if you have air conditioning, it could become cold.

Bonus tip - Sleep sacks come with a TOG rating that tells you what would be the best thickness for the temperature in the room.

6. Enjoy daytime play! Get your children outside to play, play, play! Being outside in the sunshine, running around and getting extra exercise will help with your sleep drive! Building that sleep drive between naps and bedtime will build the sleep pressure to make bedtime a little easier.

Bonus tip - If you must skip a nap because of fun commitments, an early bedtime is the secret weapon to help your child not become overtired.

If you are traveling or planning a day outing:

1. Naps on the Go! The most restorative sleep for a child is in a stationary sleep location, but there will be times during the summer when naps need to be taken on the go. So, plan ahead when you know you will be out and about. Bring a stroller that reclines so your baby can lay back and nap while you enjoy your summer outing. Or, if you know that you are going to be driving for a little while to get to your location, try to plan the drive during nap time so that your child can get a nice snooze before you get to your destination, starting out the adventure with a rested little one!

Bonus tip - Use a portable sound machine in the car or stroller. This will be a signal to your child’s brain that it is time to sleep.

2. Pack a Sleep Bag! Pack a special sleep bag for your child. Bring all the items that your child uses in their sleep routine. Bring their favorite book, pj’s or sleep sack, travel blackout shades, and anything else you use during your sleep routine. Even bring their crib sheets or blanket with the smell of home (don’t wash for a couple of days before you leave). Their sound machine will become a great clue that it is time to sleep and will help keep outside noises outside.

Bonus Tip-Don’t forget the baby monitor. It is a great way to keep an eye on your child while he sleeps, and you have some adult time.

3. Get Back on Track! The next day make sure you get your child right back on schedule. You might even want to consider an extra early bedtime to make up for the lost sleep.

Bonus Tip - It may take a few days to get things on track again, so be patient and consistent with the process.

4.  Don’t take a vacation on Safe Sleep! My number one tip! Even though summer is busy, it is important to remain diligent about the safety of where and how your child is sleeping. Think about where your child will sleep and preplan the details before you get to your destination. If possible, have your child sleep in the same circumstances that they sleep at home.

If your child is in a crib, then plan on either bringing a portable crib, pack-and-play or rent a crib from where you are staying. If your child is in a bed, then see if you can get an extra bed so that your child will have their own sleep space just like at home. If possible, have your child sleep in their own area. You may have to think outside of the box to do this. This can work for a temporary bedroom if you have a walk-in closet or even a nice-sized bathroom.

Just be sure that where your child is sleeping provides a safe and conducive sleep environment. If it is impossible to have a separate sleep area, bring a curtain or sheet. You can use temporary wall hangers to hang from the ceiling so that your child has their own sleep area. This will allow for a safe and better night’s sleep for everyone.

Bonus Tip-Remember the ABCs of safe sleep:  
A - Alone (nothing but baby, a tight-fitting sheet and a firm mattress)
B - Back (always place a baby on their back when placing them in a crib).
C - Crib (only crib, bassinet or pack-and-play for baby sleep). 

Wrap-U Tips
  • Use the 80/20 Rule! Vacation is the perfect example of when to use the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule means that you stick to your healthy, consistent sleep schedule 80% of the time. You then can make exceptions to your schedule 20% of the time.
  • Enjoy your time! Don’t forget to enjoy your summer as you make a memory with your family. If sleep does get off track, then as soon as you can, reset and offer the same consistent schedule that you have previously set up. It may take a few days to get back on track, but it will happen. Offer an extra early bedtime for a few days to help catch up on sleep. Before you know it, your child will be back on track, and it will be time to start planning your next family adventure.

About the Author

Lynn Matuszewski is a Certified Sleep Consultant with Good Night Sleep Site. Lynn has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education with a background in healthcare. Good Night Sleep Site has plans to help set up healthy sleep foundations for newborns, babies, kids to teens, and adults. If you would like to know more about any of the programs she offers, click here to set up a free 15-minute discovery call.