No parent wants to become the “sleep police” during the summer months when everyone is taking a break from their normal schedules. The days are longer, the sun is shining, and time is a little less important. Summer vacations, going to camp, and just hanging out with their friends is a relaxing respite for teens and younger children.
Most parents want to cut their kids a little slack during a school break, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have to develop an abnormal sleep schedule.
The Right Amount Of Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation pre-school children should get 10-13 hours of sleep, whereas elementary children up to age 13 require 9-11 hours of sleep. As for teens, they need 8-10 hours of restful sleep.
During a school break these standards can be stretched both ways. Younger kids don’t want to go to bed when the sun is still out, and teens may sleep until after the noon hour. What’s a parent to do?
Consistency Is Key To Managing Sleep Schedules
All kids need routines and structure in their lives. They may gripe about it, but as a parent, it’s our job to provide that consistency, especially when it comes to sleep schedules.
- Younger children who find it hard to sleep when the sun is still out may need dark shades to block the light. Be sure they get enough physical activity during the day to help them fall asleep, and keep their bedroom as cool as possible.
- Teens may tend to “oversleep” in the summer, but there can be a limit. Some extra sleep won’t hurt them, but sleeping the day away isn’t healthy either. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of going to bed very late and getting up late. Set a reasonable time for them to rise during the summer, like 10 AM.
- Don’t allow kids to indulge in sweet snacks, sugary drinks or caffeine right before bedtime.
- Curb the use of cell phones, TV, and video games before bedtime.
- Nap times for younger children should not change.
The Back To School Transition
Regardless of how flexible a parent has been during the summer, start to transition bedtimes and wake times about two weeks before school starts. Make some adjustments, and shift the bedtime and wake time a little earlier every couple of days. This should make it a little less stressful for everyone come the first day of school.
Some Final Thoughts About Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy life for both children and adults. The right amount and the quality of our sleep can affect the mood, development, productivity, and the performance of our children. You can be flexible during the summer months and yet still maintain a consistent and healthy sleep schedule.