Most of us love the summer, we will it to arrive 10 months of the year and then when it does come often it comes with disruption to sleep that may only be a few nights or perhaps it may be more but it can be hard to keep your room and your child’s room cool so everyone can sleep peacefully. And then we will it to be cool again…..
I am going to give you some “cool” tips in this blog that will help keep your bedrooms cooler this summer and help with your families sleep!
So without going too much in to the science of sleep, I will tell you that the body needs to take a dip in temperature to effectively fall asleep. In the evening when the sun goes down or we are in a darker room your eyes will recognise the darkness and send signals to the brain which effectively tells the circadian rhythm (internal body clock) it is time to sleep. This then triggers the release of melatonin that tells the body you feel tired and sleepy and helps you fall asleep. This also helps the body take a dip in temperature.
However if the bedroom is hot, this can confuse your brain, interfere with the natural thermoregulation and this will then disturb sleep. The body is very sensitive to temperature during the first 2 stages of sleep and this is why you and your child may find it hard to fall asleep in heat.
During the Day
Keep the blinds down, curtains closed. Shut the sunlight out. THERMAL BLACK OUT BLINDS are brilliant for keeping out sun.
Keep your little one hydrated. Keep water in the freezer and they can drink it as it melts. Older children may like to play with ice blocks and you can even freeze little bits of fruit in ice cube trays for them to suck. Another sneaky way to get some vitamins into them!
Cucumber and watermelon sticks are great from upping the fluid intake
Breastfeeding mums keep baby hydrated with regular feeds and drink more water yourself
Ventilate the house when the sun is not shining through the windows. If you have a loft hatch open it for heat to escape up there!
Before Your Little One Goes To Bed
If they have a lovey or comforter you can pop it in the freezer for an hour or so and this will be a nice cool relief to cuddle when they get into bed
Pop your little one in a cool bath before bedtime especially if they are feeling hot already and clammy. Try to let them dry naturally rather than wrapping up in a thick towel. You may like to just use a large muslin to pat dry
Freeze pillow case for an hour before bedtime
Stop all high impact and physical activities at least an hour and half before bedtime for the body to slow down and regulate body temperature
During The Night
Open the windows to let a flow of air in. This will also stop the room feeling very stuffy. You will need to close the blinds down at some point during the night before the sun comes up for obvious reasons!
You can keep a fan on but DO NOT DIRECT IT AT YOUR CHILD. Also please be careful if the motor gets hot it may be a fire hazard. Some fans come with a timer.
Place a bowl of ice cubes or a couple of frozen bottles of water in front of the fan and this will help circulate cool water vapour around the room.
Use 100% cotton fabrics on the bed and clothing. It very hot temperatures your little one is best not to wear anything apart from a nappy / underwear.
For older children you feel confident they will not choke you can leave a water bottle next to their bed. Pop it in the freezer an hour before bedtime to give it a chill boost or invest in a thermal water bottle for them so water keeps cold all night long.
The heat of summer can still affect us all. You or your child may be affected by heat exhaustion so it is worth noting down the following signs:
Fast heart rate (Know by medics as tachycardia)
Cool and clammy to the touch skin
If you or your child displays any of these signs and you are concerned you need to cool off and have some calm quiet time. Remove clothing and cool down by placing a cool cloth over the back of neck, forehead, feet and arms.
Enjoy the summer as much as you can, don’t forget to take the sun screen out with you and a makeup brush to apply it, (then you won’t get stick hands and your little one will perhaps not squirm as much when you apply it to their face!)
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep consultant
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