A guide to safeguarding your children's sleep during the summer heat

The first step in being safe during the summer season is to understand what the sun does to us. The sunlight has many positive effects on us, but without enough care, it can be devastating.

Positive effects :

  • Happy mood: The sunlight increases our production of a hormone called serotonin, supporter of our happy mood
  • Vitamin D: The sunlight helps our body produce vitamin D which helps our body absorb calcium
  • Social impact: With more light during the summer months, we are more likely to seek social interaction, a key element that benefits our mental health
  • Sleep: Exposure to sunlight during wakeful times boosts the production of melatonin during the night

Negative effects:

  • Sunburns: In addition to being vey painful, sunburns causes permanent damage to the skin
  • Dehydration: when the body looses too much water and minerals than it can cope with
  • Heat strokes: when the body has accumulated too much heat and can no longer regulate its temperature
  • Eye damage: Exposure to intense sunlight can produce permanent damage to the retina

Keeping it cool

During heat waves, the most important element of supporting your children’ sleep is to keep their body as cool as possible. As children grow older, their body becomes more efficient at  thermoregulating but until they show signs of shivering in the cold, assume that they are incapable of regulating their core temperature. Keeping our children cool during heat waves has to be a priority. It is our job as parents to keep them shaded, protected from excess heat and from sunburns. The other key element is to keep the sleeping area cool to help the process of falling asleep.

Cool body

  • Drink plenty of fresh water
  • Keep double shaded (wear a hat + stay in shaded areas)
  • Wear a cloth hat and wet it at any given opportunity
  • Water splashing: playing in the bath or in the paddling pool many times a day is a good way to keep fresh and a fun activity. Keep the paddling pool in the shade
  • Keep a towel in your buggy. Wet the towel and cover your child with it on a regular basis when out and about
  • Stay away from direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm
  • For older children, a sense of freshness can be achieved by applying a little water at the back of their ears

Cool room:

As soon as the morning freshness has gone:

  • Draw blinds and curtains of any window directly hit by the sun, to reduce heat through radiation
  • Close south facing windows until the air is cooler

As soon as the evening freshness comes back:

  • Open windows and doors to create a draft of fresh air through the house. Upstairs and downstairs Assist the draft with a fan if possible
  • Close all windows, air vents and curtains before going to sleep (sun and birds wake so early!)

Important notes:

  • Children copy. Lead by example: drink water instead of fizzy drinks, and your child will learn to do the same
  • For sun screens: Nothing less than SPF* 50+ on children applied regularly and frequently
  • Clouds don’t filter out harmful sunrays. Watch out for sunburns in cloudy weather!
  • When you go sight seeing, always take a long sleeve top and a hat for your child to wear
  • Be warned: Droplets of water act like tinny magnifying glasses and increase the effect of the sun on the skin
  • Don’t get into a habit of offering your children ice lollies frequently. Go for water and fresh fruits instead
  • If children need to be kept up late at night for social activities, Keep up their sleep intake with a nap after lunch
  • After attending a late social event, Hypersensitive, hyperactive or overthinking children should be given the opportunity to calm down with a story and a long hug before climbing into bed to help them lower their heart rate
  • Itchy bottom at bed time? The hot weather is perfect breading set for worms ( best to check once a week when asleep)
isabelle@goodsleepers.co.uk

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