Importance of maintaining a schedule during summer vacation


SPRINGFIELD — Summer break is finally here, creating a lot of excitement between the long, sunny days and exciting vacation getaways. However, health experts warn it’s important to keep up your sleep routine even when the rest of your schedule changes.

“The summer is only about two to three months, and very soon you’ll be headed back to school or your regular work routine. If you don’t maintain your same, basic sleep patterns during the summertime – regardless of whether you’re at home or traveling – you’ll end up dealing with the consequences of acute or chronic sleep deprivation,” explained Dr. Shakeel Bahadur, a sleep medicine expert at Mercy Health – Springfield Pulmonology.

Those consequences can include mood swings, cognition problems, poor productivity and an increased risk of daytime fatigue. So, have your summertime fun in moderation to minimize the lingering health impacts and if you’re traveling – especially when it involves young children – the best thing you can do is try to stick with the familiar.

“My best advice is to plan your trip or your day around your child’s schedule – around their naptime and their mealtime. All that is essential and will make them much happier. They can feel a bit like they’re at home and it’ll keep them on track. If you try to disrupt that routine, it’s going to make them very cranky and they’re going to be miserable the whole time,” advised Bahadur.

When you’re not at home, sticking to a consistent routine can be tough. So, try to apply the 80/20 rule – scheduling your day around your child’s naps and bedtime 80 percent of the time with that extra 20 percent left to veer off routine for the unexpected. The key is trying not to do too much.

“Be realistic. The biggest mistake people make is overscheduling things and that leaves their bodies exhausted,” said Bahadur. “Don’t try to do all the theme parks in one day. It’s almost impossible and you can’t enjoy it. Look at the highlights of what you want to get out of that park and only try to do that, so you and your family can truly enjoy it as much as you want.”

How your day is planned out is only part of the strategy. You also have to make sure you have the right environment to end your day with, to encourage a good night’s rest. Blue light technology can suppress the body’s automatic rise in melatonin that helps us feel drowsy and fall asleep, so it’s best to avoid all electronics especially in the last two hours before bedtime.

Your diet can also be important. While indulging a little while on summer vacation is ok, it’s important to remember that what you eat can also impact how you sleep. It’s a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine right before bed and if you decide on a late-night snack, try to avoid spicy or fatty foods that could keep you up with heartburn.

If you’re consistently struggling to get enough sleep or feel like a lack of sleep is disrupting your daily routine despite maintaining good sleep habits, it may be time to be evaluated further. Learn more about the sleep medicine services Mercy Health offers at

No posts to display