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Camp 101: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep at Summer Camp

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Hey, Sleepy Heads!

Some kids can sleep through anything. Parents who are blessed to have such deep sleepers can count on their children to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night like clockwork. But, for other kids, changes in their environment and surroundings can have an impact on how well they sleep each night. For many kids, the biggest adjustment to “sleepaway” camp is embodied in the first part of that word: Sleep. For lots of kids, being away from home means having trouble sleeping.

Whether kids are dealing with anxiety over being away from home, or whether they are overstimulated by their new surroundings and a break from their normal routine back home, sleeping can be a real challenge for some kids at summer camp. One way to remedy this is, before going to bed, for them to take time to calm down 30 minutes before getting into bed. They should avoid any exertion or stimulating activities during this period that might get their adrenaline pumping. They should take their time with their pre-bedtime activities like brushing their teeth, washing up and getting into their pajamas, not rushing through any of those steps.

Another factor that can preclude a good night’s sleep at summer camp is not psychological or emotional, but rather, environmental. Not only might the barracks where your child is sleeping not be as comfortable as what they are used to–it may lack air-conditioning and be very hot, or it could be noisy, or there might be too much light coming into the room. Also, the bedding might not be very comfortable–they might be Spartan structures made of wood or iron. When kids get in bed, they should find a comfortable position. Use extra pillows or sleep on top of an extra blanket if they need to.

Another impediment to sleep that kids are not used to is roommates with different sleep patterns than their own. They may be stuck with someone who snores, or tosses and turns. If people around them are being noisy, they need to try tuning them out by listening to some music, reading a book, or pulling the covers over their head. It might help for kids to simply close your eyes focus on just one simple thing, attempting to relax and focus on serene thoughts.

It might help for kids trying to sleep well at summer camp to replicate as much of their pre-bedtime routine from home as they are able to. Doing things in the same order they would at home might help: If they wash their face first, then brush their teeth, then use the bathroom and then change into their sleeping clothes at home, try doing those things in exactly the same order at camp. Kids are largely creatures of routine, and while camp is, in many respects, a way to actively break them out of their routines, there is no point in messing with a bedtime ritual that works at home. A well-rested kid will have much better odds of enjoying the sleepaway camp experience than one who is always sleep-deprived.

Enjoy your Zzz’s at summer camp and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John


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