Now that summer is here, we can expect longer days of sunshine and fun times ahead. But, while your kids enjoy their summer break, do you find keeping a consistent sleep schedule for your children to be challenging?

As the days progress, kids, teens and parents alike tend to stay up later, indulging in high-fat and sugary foods. They find themselves substituting timely bedtimes and healthy dinners for long days in the sun, followed by late movie nights with ice cream and popcorn. The truth is, studies show that children are more likely to sleep less and gain weight during the summer than at any other time of the year.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that young people get the following hours of sleep:

  • Ages 3-5, 10 to 13 hours
  • Ages 6-13, nine to 11 hours
  • Ages 14-17, eight to 10 hours

Here are a few tips for ensuring your child gets adequate sleep during the summer months.

Set a schedule - especially for younger children:

With longer days, kids don’t want to go to sleep while it’s still light out because they would rather be out playing. However, if you have younger children, you may have to put your child to bed prior to sundown in order to maintain their consistent sleep schedule. Create the feeling of night by minimizing noise and darkening the room as much as possible.

Snack right, sleep tight:

While our kids joyfully embrace summer activities such as beach days and barbecues while eating ice cream and drinking sweet refreshments, be sure to watch how much sugar and caffeine your child consumes. These summer snacks and beverages are tasty, but can have a negative effect on your child’s sleep schedule — especially if consumed around their bedtime.

Some examples of healthy, nutritious snacks include:

  1. Fat-free yogurt
  2. Whole-grain pretzels
  3. Veggie sticks
  4. Fruit

Just for teens:

For teens, allowing them to sleep in is okay; in fact, it’s simply part of being a teenager. However, try to have your teen get up no later than 9 or 10 a.m. This will make the transition back to school a lot easier. Getting kids of all ages involved with activities that require them to be present in the morning or committing them to daytime fun that starts earlier in the day helps!

Back to school means back to a school schedule:

As the school year starts, help ease your child back into their normal routine by adjusting their sleep schedule a few weeks prior to school starting. Begin by moving their bedtime ahead 15 minutes earlier. Do this every two to three nights until they’re back at their normal sleep time.

I hope these tips help you to make the most of summer with your kids while ensuring their sleep needs are met. Have a wonderful summer!

– Margaret A. Zimmerman, MD

Source: National Sleep Foundation