A family guide to sleep routines

From Sarah Moe, Sleep Expert & AMEC Member

Summer means more time “together”- adjustments to our summer sleep routine are a great way to refuel, relax and experience more wellness together all year round. Here are some easy tips to help you tailor your sleep routine to your own needs and practice as a family:

  1. Go easy on yourself:

    It’s easy to slip into the “perfection mentality” during the summer hours, trying to make the most of every moment with our friends and families while comparing ourselves to the perfect summer on social media. But the truth is, you’re already doing a great job- your families are well and cared for, so go easy on yourself. Taking the time to feel gratitude for what you bring to your household will lessen the feelings of anxiety we feel throughout the day, and that leads to better sleep at night. And don't forget to travel with a soft silk eye mask to block the light and rest anytime, anywhere!

  2. Listen to your gut:

    Each child, family member, or partner has different sleep needs, circadian rhythms, and abilities to adapt to change. There will not be one single formula that works perfectly for everyone, so pay attention to each individual and what works for them to feel their best each morning. Discuss together how to improve your sleep routines as a household and support each other. And for parents, having your own sleep routine is a great example for the rest of the family to follow. When you need a natural sleep aid, try some yummy melatonin gummies. 

  3. Prepare for Fall now:

    If you have taken the more relaxed approach, prepare for back-to-school or back to the office at least three weeks in advance. A recent study showed that the most significant predictor of successful adjustment to school was for kids to get at least ten hours of sleep. I suggest going to bed ten minutes earlier each night and starting with the same routine (for example: take a bath, brush teeth, turn on the night light, read two books, lights out!) three weeks before going back to our Fall schedule.

In summary, the Sleep Medicine community has two schools of thought on transitional sleep practices. The first one, which I adhere to, is that summer means time for kids to be kids and for all to relax: no more early mornings rising before the sun to finish homework or race for the bus. Let children sleep in if they can, take naps if they need them, truly relax and enjoy their time off. Likewise, I recommend napping for everyone else, on vacation or not. But some sleep experts recommend maintaining a stricter bed/wake time routine through the summer months. Staying on the same schedule helps everyone experience less disruption when they need to rejoin their classmates in the fall and when we go back to our normal work routine. Training our time clocks in a more rigid manner allows us to achieve as much sleep as possible all year long.

But it’s also the perfect time to appreciate the small things that bring us together, such as family reunions, summer camp, and road trips. Personally, I am excited about these long awaited late sunsets with my child. …