April 21, 2017

by Mankato Clinic

Before you know it, your kids will be out of school for the summer and ready to enjoy the longer days. Without the daily structure of school, it’s common for kids to stay up later and not sleep long enough to make up for it.

After a while, the lack of sleep can begin to affect their mood, health and ability to learn.  It may seem nice to allow your child to wake up later during the summer, but try to stick to the same bedtime routine they have throughout the rest of the year. This will cause their bodies to become accustomed to a sleep schedule. If they wake up later than normal a few times a week, they can become groggy and jet-lag like, making it hard for their bodies to feel tired at its normal bedtime.

Even though bedtimes tend to be later in the summer, as parents, try to still keep them as consistent as possible. For instance, if your child has an 8 p.m. bedtime during the school year, allow them to stay up until 9 p.m. during the summer. The consistence of timing is powerful because the internal clock works best under routine.

Studies have shown that elementary-aged children that have a regular bedtime performed better in math, spatial stills and reading. On the other hand, kids whose bedtimes were inconsistent, were more likely to have behavior and mood issues.

To help guide your child back to a regular sleep schedule at the beginning of the school year, it’s important to start changing sleep patterns at least 10-14 days before school. Start by incorporating the earlier bedtime slowly, by putting 15-20 minutes each night toward bedtime with a familiar routine. Additionally, keep regular bedtime and wake-up times on weekends. Without the proper amount of sleep, kids have difficulty focusing and more emotional sensitivity, which can lead to more problems down the road. Sleep guidelines recommend that preschool-age students get 10-13 hours of sleep each night, school age children 9-11 hours and adolescents 8-10 hours.

Follow these tips to help your child get the sleep their body needs. In return, you’ll sleep better, too!

  • Children ages 3-6 should typically go to bed between 7-9 p.m., and wake up around 6-8 a.m., just as they did when they were younger. As children get older, naps gradually become shorter. Children ages 7-12 should sleep 10-11 hours per day, as social, school and family activities inhabit their lives more and more. By the time your child is 12, try and have them go to bed by 9 p.m. The average sleep for your child at this age should be around 9 hours.
  • Each night, have the same bedtime routine in place for your child. Doing specific activities before bed – like taking a bath, brushing their teeth and reading – sets the perfect atmosphere, and will have your child’s body automatically start to become sleepy at the beginning of the routine.
  •  Turn off the electronics and television at least two hours before bedtime. Artificial light from a TV or iPad can interfere with our body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that is an important piece of sleep-wake cycles. Turning off the artificial lights before bedtime will help melatonin levels stay at their highest, when people are most sleepy and ready for bed
  • If your child has bedtime fears, do your best to help reassure them that they will be safe in their bed. Let the child know that it is the parent’s job to protect them while they are sleeping.