It is the beginning of the summer season and we will all change our daily routines. One of the biggest issues will be our sleep and our children’s sleep. The weather changes and the sunlight changes which leads to new sleep habits. If we are not careful especially with our children that can causes us issues three months from now when they return to school.
So why all this change. That is simple since our day to day routine changes and become more relaxed our sleep routines also become more relaxed. This includes how much sunlight we get, how much napping we do and how strict we are about our bedtime. Our brain is like a computer in that it enjoys the routines we have that tells it when to boot up and when to turn off. When we change our exposure to light, our exercise, our bedtime or any of our other routine activities it will become confused and not want to shut down. In the case of our children this can become the fight for going to bed. Since they no longer have to be at school at 7am we figure it is fine to let them go to sleep when they are tired.
When school starts up again in August or September the fight to get them to bed on time will be that much bigger if we do not keep their routines intact during the summer. This does not mean there are no exceptions, just that it should be more normal than not.
If you have ever been to an amusement park you will know what I am talking about. You see a child in a stroller at 3 in the afternoon and he is whining and fidgety and cranky. That is because he is usually napping around 3 in the afternoon but his or her parents do not want to deprive him of the experience. In the end everyone loses. If the parents took the child to the room to nap instead they may have missed two hours in the park but they would have a child who has been refreshed mind and body and is now ready to enjoy the evening.
The temperature and long exposure to light also has an effect on our bodies that can lead to insomnia. To help with this it is essential that we stay hydrated. That is why you feel so fatigued when you spend the day out in the sun. Our body needs water to operate effectively. It is also important that we get that good morning sunlight that tells our brain it is time to wake up and that we have light blocking shades in our bedrooms at night so we have the darkness we need to produce Melatonin.
If you feel that a change in your routine is needed that is great. With summer’s relaxed routine it is a great time to add or try new things for your sleep routine. You can try exercising in the early evening to see how it affects your sleep, meditation or yoga as part of your sleep routine or changing your bedtime or wake time to determine if a change will lead to better sleep. I have found that if I change my alarm clock from 6am to 6:15 I wake more refreshed because I have ended my REM sleep by 6:15. Summer gives me that time to play with these adjustment.
Take the time to enjoy yourself this summer but remember that you still need a sleep routine if you want to enjoy your day.