Kids love the summer – longer days, no school, no homework, just time to relax and have fun. Between all of the excitement and the sun setting later in the evening, getting kids to go to sleep is likely the part about summer that parents dread the most. Knowing how to address a variety of sleep stealing factors is key, especially when the words “it’s still light outside” and “it’s not a school night” are regular occurrences at bedtime.
On a consistent basis, kids from six to 13 years old need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night. Teens, age 14 and up, need between eight and 10 hours. Depending on their level of activity during the summer, those numbers can increase. Lack of quality sleep can impact growth, development, mood and function. Plus, when the kids aren’t snoozing at night, neither are parents.
Create Structure with a Bedtime Routine
Children thrive on structure, as the familiarity of the routine provides a sense of comfort and calmness. Not having school and regular activities can significantly derail otherwise established habits. Adding the structure of a routine can eliminate the stress that bedtime causes. First, one to two hours before bedtime, encourage relaxation. This might include turning off the TV and putting away the tablets. The practice of putting on pajamas, brushing teeth and reading a story in bed can follow. The routine might change depending on what is needed, but the key is to keep the consistent pattern each night.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Even with school being out, friends sleeping over and traveling on vacations, going to bed and waking up around the same time each day is crucial. By establishing a schedule, kids can fall asleep faster, go through the proper stages of sleep and maintain a natural sleep cycle. Once the nightly agenda is set in place, try not to break it. This will also help parents keep their own sleep schedule in check.
Control the Environment
Make a sleep space that is both peaceful and relaxing, but also dark and cool. Remove distractions such as tablets and toys from the room, as well as loud noises right outside of it. Put up room-darkening or blackout curtains to take away the light from windows and also cool down the space. A cooler sleeping environment is ideal for quality sleep. You can also try a fan, which can help aid in drowsiness.
Back to School Habits
As the summer winds down and school approaches, begin adjusting daily and nightly habits to get children ready for school. A steady method to change can help with the transition. If bedtime routines alter to incorporate picking out an outfit or checking the backpack for the next day, start working those in before it becomes an absolute necessity. It’s the little things that can make a big difference, especially when it comes to sleep.
Written by: David Klose, Amerisleep
David Klose is a Certified Sleep Science Coach at Amerisleep, an award-winning brand that produces technologically-advanced sleep solutions. Amerisleep’s eco-friendly mattresses, supportive adjustable beds, and accessories are sold online and in showrooms across the U.S. (including four in Arizona), South Korea, and Australia. Learn more at amerisleep.comor find your nearest showroom at amerisleep.com/retai)