The National Sleep Foundation recommends children ages 5 to 12 get at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night. However, summer vacation often brings a sudden shift in your child’s routine that may disrupt his or her sleep habits.
Your child’s sleep pattern is partially determined by his or her circadian rhythm, which is essentially a body clock. The natural timekeeping of the body can often be influenced by external factors, such as changes in the sun’s rising or setting.
Recipe for Summer Sleep
Unless parents are proactive, poor sleep habits may continue into the school year and negatively affect your child’s academic performance or behavior. In fact, a recent study published in Sleep Medicine found poor sleep is twice as common in children who exhibit aggressive or disruptive behavior at school. Try the following tips to keep your child’s sleep cycle intact and reduce back-to-school sleepiness later:
• Stick with a routine. Just because school is out does not mean your child should stay up late every night and sleep in every morning. Allow some flexibility for summertime fun, but do your best to make sure your child maintains his or her regular sleep schedule.
• Create a good sleep environment. In many parts of the United States, the sun sets much later in the evening during summertime. The extra light may make it difficult for your child to get to sleep, so consider installing curtains or blinds in his or her bedroom to lower light levels.
• Get back into school hours. If your child’s sleep schedule gets off track during the summer, ease him or her back into the school-year routine at least a week or two before classes begin.
To learn more about healthy sleep habits for your child, search “sleep” above.
Reviewed by Leyla Akanli, M.D., FAAP, FCCP, medical director, Pediatric Sleep Center, pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.