Sleep On The Go: How to keep sleep on track when not at home!
On The Road Again....
Now that I have got that song stuck in your head we can chat about sleep on the go! Sleep feels hard enough when you are at home let alone somewhere else. Even the best of sleepers can have troubles when not sleeping in their own bed. Heck, even I don’t sleep as well when not at home and find myself saying that “I can’t wait to get back into my own bed” when away!
One thing I do notice with sleep is that if you have a good sleeper at home they generally do better on the go compared to a “bad” sleeper. I would say that this is due to “bad” sleepers being in an overtired state and therefore not as accepting to changes in their routine. All individuals adapt to changes more positively when we are rested and at our best!
How to keep sleep on par or at least not make it worse when sleeping in other locations is a very common question. Camping, holidays or even a sleep over at grandma’s house can be cause for concern when thinking about our little one’s sleep! We all know that when our baby isn’t sleeping we are tired and this can suck the fun out of anything.
I have put together some of my favorite tips to keep sleep on track when you are not at home!!
1. Use a room spray at home so that when you are sleeping somewhere else you can bring the spray along and make the room smell like home! Babies love consistency and so making them feel at home with a scent is an easy way to establish the same feeling of security that they get at home while on the go.
2. Bring the sheet off the crib/bassinet/bed. This is kind of the same as tip one because it is all about having the smell of home to relax the body. The used sheet is the perfect way to make your baby think that they are at home.
3. Make the new sleep environment as dark as you can. The darker the better!! First, darkness signals the body to produce sleep hormones and we always want those lovely sleep inducing hormones to be on our side! Second, if the space is dark enough your baby might not even recognize they are not at home. Now, with help of the room spray, it smells like home and feels like home!
** When in a hotel put the playpen or sleep apparatus in the closet or bathroom! I know it sounds crazy but it can work!
** Always pack tinfoil incase you need to darken up any space. You don't need anything fancy... tinfoil from the dollar store is cheap and effective!
4. Pack the white noise machine. The first step here is to make sure you are using one at home. White noise is used to help the body go through sleep cycles and it also blocks out external noises that may wake up your baby (fun around the campfire??). If you use a white noise machine then bring it along with you and have it where your baby will be sleeping. At this point your baby’s sleep environment smells the same, looks the same and sounds the same! They don’t even know they are gone from home!!
5. STICK TO YOUR ROUTINES!!! I can’t stress this one enough. In my opinion routines are the most over looked component of sleep. Each step of the sleep routine acts as your baby’s clock. Your baby can’t tell time (duh, I know you all know that) so the steps of the routine are telling your baby’s brain that they will be sleeping soon and the brain can then release sleep hormones. It is so important. Even if timing is different or the day is not how it usually is, still do your nap routines before each nap and your bedtime routine every night. Don’t skip any of the steps. If you have to shorten the time of the routine that is fine but keep each step or cue in place. Example, you might have a 5 minute bath instead of a 10 minute bath.
6. Try your best to stay on schedule. Babies nap and go to bed early for a reason…. their body needs it! When we are not at home we are usually experiencing more stimulation in ways such as being outdoors, seeing more people and just being busier. If anything, your baby needs their naps and normal bedtime more than ever because of how much stimulation their body is getting. Stick to awake times or nap and bedtimes as close as you can and don’t be afraid to even put them down earlier if they are showing signs that they need it.
7. If travelling across 1 time zone I recommend staying on home time. This is generally easy to do and it makes for less adjustment when you get back home. If travelling across more than 1 time zone you can split the difference so that the timing is half-way between where you are at and home time or if you are going for a long duration of time you could adjust your baby before you go and then before you come back!
8. Relax! Seriously, nobody does as good on the go as when they are at home. Enjoy your holiday, visit, travelling, ect and when you get home you can get back on track!!