Longer days and no school probably mean your children want to wake up mid-morning and go to sleep at a later bedtime throughout their summer vacation. However, letting your kids run their own sleep schedule for the summer isn’t exactly the best idea. For one, a child’s sleep needs don’t change because they are on break from school. Kids need at least nine hours of sleep at night to perform at the optimum level during the day. Furthermore, changing up their sleep schedule for summer will make it that much more difficult for them to adjust once school is back in session– remember, summer break is a short three months. Before you know it, you will be hyping up your children for back-to-school. There will be no time for retraining your kids to get up early enough for class.

Establish a Manageable Bedtime Routine

Instead of having a hard-and-fast bedtime that means your kids have to be in bed by that minute, make bedtime a manageable routine where the entire family can wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. An hour or so before the children need to be in bed, turn off the television as well as computers, tablets, phones, and whatever other blue light-emitting devices you have around the house. A Harvard study found that blue light depletes melatonin, a chemical our brains release at night to help us fall asleep. If your child has these items in their bedroom, it’s time for a redesign that makes their sleeping space a screen-free zone. Move desktop computers and televisions to a common space in the house, or sell them and spend the money on a fun activity you can do with your child to make memories.

Once you’ve turned off electronics, go through the rest of your bedtime routine. Have children take a bath if they need one, brush their teeth, and wash their faces. After they put on their pajamas, dedicate some time to listen to music, read a book, or simply talk about your day together. This is some of the most intimate bonding time you can have with your children, so don’t waste it.

Use Light to Your Advantage

If the summer days last well into bedtime where you live, it may make the argument for hitting the hay at that hour more difficult. While you can’t trick your kids into thinking the sun has set, you can prevent it from keeping them awake by hanging blackout curtains in the summer. If your child is afraid of the dark, try using a light alarm clock that has a sundown dimming feature as well as a sunrise feature that wakes them up. These alarm clocks regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythm to improve overall sleep quality. Having the dimmer feature that lowers the light levels as time passes lulls your children to sleep while simultaneously keeping the monsters at bay.

Establish a Comfortable Environment

If your children are not comfortable, they will have a harder time falling and staying asleep. Make sure their rooms are cool so they don’t get overheated and wake up. For this reason as well, make sure their pajamas and sheets are breathable and cooling, especially during the stuffy summer months. You may want to invest in some summer-friendly sleepwear and sheets if your child has a tendency to run hot.

If your child has dry skin, allergies, or asthma, invest in a humidifier that improves air quality and your child’s health. You can also look into humidifier options that allow you to distribute essential oils that promote better sleep. Even if your children don’t have breathing problems, these machines can make their room more comfortable, provide white noise, and act as a brain signal for bedtime.

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Summer is no reason to go off your child’s normal sleep routine. Instead of emphasizing the whole notion of “bedtime,” start a calming nighttime routine for the whole family where you unwind and bond. Make bedtime a joyful part of their day, and they won’t want to change it up just because it’s summer.

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