Iowa Sleep Blog

How to Maintain Your Child’s Sleep Habits on Vacation

Monday, June 30, 2014

When you plan your family vacations, you probably have a full list of activities to schedule, but have you allowed enough time to sleep and recharge between activities? Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule on vacation will help you feel refreshed while you’re away and once you return – especially if you’re traveling with small children.

To get the most out of your family vacation and keep everyone relaxed, happy and alert, try some of our tips for maintaining your child’s healthy sleep habits while you’re away.

  1. Stay consistent with naps and bedtime. Small children will sleep better if they stick to their normal routines. This may require you to schedule big activities in the morning or late afternoon so your child still gets an early afternoon nap. Maintaining or staying as close as possible to a regularly scheduled bedtime will allow the child to get a full night’s rest. This, in turn, will reduce the chances of dealing with a cranky or overtired child the next day.
  2. Bring along your child’s sleep essentials. If your child sleeps with a toy, blanket or noise machine, bring it along. It will help make a new place feel safer and more like home. To reduce light in the room that may interfere with sleep, pack a dark blanket you can tack up over the windows if needed.
  3. Try to keep the sleep environment similar to home. If you don’t let your child sleep in the same bed with you at home, try to avoid sharing a bed at the hotel. Request a crib or roll-out bed from the hotel when you book your room or, if possible, book a room with enough beds and space to accommodate your family. This way you won’t have to train (or retrain) your child to sleep in his own bed when you return.
  4. Adjust to new time zones quickly. This could be as easy as staying up an hour later on your first night or waking up a bit earlier the next morning. Whatever you can do to arrange for your child go to bed at the same time as normal will help. However, try not to allow more naps or longer sleep than usual.
  5. Don’t overschedule activities. Vacations are a time for lots of fun, but children can’t keep up with as much activity as adults. Choose one big activity for the day and add in slower-paced activities if you have extra time.

Remember to resume your child’s normal sleep routine immediately when you return from vacation. If you altered sleeping schedules while you were away, quickly returning to regular naptime and bedtime hours will help your child recognize the difference between sleeping at home and sleeping in a hotel or another location. It shouldn’t take more than two days to readjust once you get home.

Have you had success maintaining your child’s sleep schedule while your family was on vacation? What worked for your children? Please share your experiences in comments section below.