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Sleep tips for travelling with children

Checked out of work? Check into relaxation: The Best Family Sleep Tips to make the most of your holiday.
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Taking a family break with young children can mean disrupted sleep patterns thanks to the excitement of holiday time. But while school is out, it’s important to ensure enough time for rest so that children are at their peak, and parents are rested as much as possible so they can take part in summer holiday activities together as a family, whether away from home or abroad.

In this edition of the blog our resident sleep and wellbeing expert, Natalie Pennicotte-Collier, shares her top tips for all the family to use - especially if they’re going on holiday.

“The anticipated summer holidays are much hyped and often a much-needed break for all, but it sometimes leads to a sense of ‘bed dread’ with the knowledge that disrupted sleep, different sleeping arrangements and not having enough adequate rest as a family reduces energy and wellbeing during what’s supposed to be a ‘break’.

“The dream of a comfortable luxury bed away from home, can be broken by a 4am wakeup call from the youngest member of the family, especially if you’re all sleeping together in a family room.

“Excited little ones, a long day of travel ahead, a 4-hour flight and a hot coach journey to the resort can mean extra naps taken on seats. However armed with a good understanding and strong commitment to sleeping well abroad, some small shifts will make all the difference.

“The good news is that sleep is more freely available away from school and work pressures and therefore we can all catch up on more much-needed and energy-restoring sleep, rest and recovery.

“Below are my proven practical Summer ‘sleep principles’ for all the family:


Summer sleep principles

1. “Clearly communicating to the younger members of the family that better sleep equals more fun-packed days, and suggesting you’ll be able to pack more exciting days into the holiday together because of this, really works well at helping little ones to get to sleep.

2. “Days filled with healthy activities such as swimming and sea air can mean children become weary earlier on than usual.

“Combat this with some dedicated downtime before dinner. An hour of chilled and relaxed time for children to regain some energy works brilliantly for both adults and children. Think of it as the ‘anchor’ to each day’s routine whatever activities you are enjoying.

3. “Keep a sense of ‘sleep’ humour and don’t be a slave to ‘at home’ routines and bedtimes. Decide as a family from the beginning that sleep is a crucial part of the holiday being a success for everyone but that you might have to be more flexible to different routines whilst away.

“Having a daily nap time and a dedicated ‘quiet zone’ in the mornings whereby low light reading can take place, can help towards rest for all. Also, having an agreed ‘holiday wake-up time’ set from the start can help to communicate the importance of sleep to children.

“Plan for some early nights during the break and allow mid-afternoon naps when you wouldn't usually take them so that you can keep energy levels in check.


Post-Holiday ‘Sleep Disturbance’

“I found it really interesting to see that Hypnos’ very own sleep survey of more than 2,000 people revealed that 55% of them sometimes or always struggle to sleep upon returning from a trip – that’s a big number!

“Following a break away from the usual routine, it may create short-term habits for children in response to unusual disruptions. This can be anything from having parents sleeping in the same room during the night, getting used to a later bedtime and even getting used to extra family time and attention around bedtime.

“To combat the newly created sleep habits, schedule in some rest time after coming home if possible. A quiet and relaxed 48 hour period with only light activities and plenty of time to re-adjust to the usual sleeping patterns certainly helps towards recuperation for the family and will help children to get back on track with napping and bedtime routines.”

To find out more on summer sleep and Natalie’s tips on how to combat jet lag head to our recent blog post here.

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