It is no secret that quality sleep is crucial for the growth and development of children and that it is during sleep that their bodies repair and recharge, allowing them to wake up refreshed and ready for a new day of adventures. Summer activities, sunlight, fresh air and exercise have an impact on the quality of sleep that they get at night. Here are some suggestions on activities and how much outdoor time they should be getting each day.
How Summer Activities Can Impact Children’s Sleep
Summer is the perfect time to engage children in activities that promote better sleep. By keeping them active during the day, we can help them expend their energy and establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Regular exercise and outdoor playtime can regulate their circadian rhythm, making it easier for them to fall asleep at night. Additionally, summer activities provide opportunities for children to socialize, boosting their overall mood and reducing stress levels, which can contribute to better sleep.
Engaging children in outdoor activities during the summer months not only keeps them physically active, but also helps them get a healthy dose of sunlight. Sunlight (with sunscreen of course!), is actually a source of blue light during the day, which helps the body to produce melatonin. That is the sleep hormone that we want them to have plenty of, by naptime and bedtime. As a sleep expert, I recommend that kids get a healthy dose of outiside play both in the morning and afternoon. Encouraging a 45- 90 minute playtime two times a day can be so great! Help your children participate in activities such as:
- jumping rope
- playing tag
- beach day
- playing at the playground
- walk in the park and toddler hikes
- splash parks
- summer camps
- sandbox fun
- petting zoos and farms
- wildlife parks
- the list goes on……
These activities not only burn off energy, but they encourage healthy outdoor exercise! Check with your local associations, mom groups, and park calendars to see what activities are going on in your area. It is a great way to meet other parents as well!
While outdoor activities are beneficial, there may be days when the weather does not permit. On such occasions, indoor activities can still contribute to better sleep. Encourage your children to engage in creative pursuits such as painting, drawing, or building with blocks. These activities stimulate their imagination and help them relax before bedtime. Additionally, reading books together or solving puzzles can be a calming activity that promotes better sleep quality.
Creating a Bedtime Routine with Relaxing Activities
At the end of the day, establishing bedtime routine is essential for children to wind down and prepare for sleep. Incorporating relaxing activities into this routine can signal to their bodies that it is time to unwind. Activities such as taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or practicing gentle stretches can help relax their muscles and calm their minds. By incorporating these activities into their bedtime routine, you can create a peaceful and conducive sleep environment for your children.
Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for promoting relaxation and improving sleep. Teaching your children simple mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing on their senses, can help them quiet their minds and let go of any worries or anxieties. Guided meditation exercises specifically designed for children can also be beneficial, and you can find many resources that have exercises to use. By practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly, children can develop a sense of inner calm and learn to let go of the day’s stresses, leading to a more restful sleep.
Excessive screen time has become a common sleep disruptor for children, so try and limit screen time throughout the day and make sure that your child turns off their screens at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Encourage your kids to engage in screen-free activities before bed, such as reading, drawing, or engaging in quiet play. Creating a screen-free environment in the bedroom can also help improve sleep quality.
Get out there!
Regular physical activity is not only essential for keeping children fit and healthy but also plays a significant role in improving sleep quality, and implementing it at a young age is so beneficial. Helping to release pent up energy by getting their heart rates up, with activities such as dancing, jumping rope, biking, and playing tag, your kiddos will stay fit and be ready for a good nights sleep at the end of the day.