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The ABC's of Zzz's: Get Kids In A Summer Sleep Routine

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Summertime can get pretty bright, even at night. What happens when you have a child who is a light sleeper and won't to go to bed now that school is out? These steps can help her to sleep all summer long.

Appropriate Sleep Times For Kids

First, what are the optimal sleep times for kids who attend school and preschool but are off in the summer? Sleep times can be broken down by age, according to the CDC. Per night, those totals are:

● Preschoolers, ages 3-5: 10-13 hours

● Ages 6-12: 9-12 hours

A new study showed that teenagers need 8.75-9 hours of sleep per night, to achieve both better academics and socioemotional adjustment, which is close to the CDC’s recommendation of eight to 10 hours.

Of course, when school’s out, those sleep routines often go out the window. However, experts say we shouldn’t let our kids sleep too long on break. Dr. Blake L. Jones, an assistant professor at Purdue University who researches child health, well-being, sleep and bedtime routines, says that disrupting those routines can have negative impacts, including weight gain, stress, cravings for sugary food and behavioral issues.

Create A Summer Sleep Routine

So how do we get our kids to keep a good summer sleep routine? With the numbers above in mind, here are some tips to help your child get to sleep.

● Avoid electronics an hour or more before sleep. This article from the Washington Post explains the science behind why “blue light” – the glow from your electronic device – keeps kids up at night. Teenagers suffer the most.

● Wrap up dinner early. Give your child a gap of a few hours between mealtime and bedtime so that digestion doesn’t keep them up. Also, remember to limit liquids before bed so they do not have to get up to use the bathroom during the night.

● Analytical Mommy recommends keeping their rooms at the right temperature. Make sure the room is not too hot or too cool. Air conditioning can be too strong for their system and that can also wake your child or make them need the bathroom.

● What does your child need for a good night’s sleep? Some kids need the right pillow, others can’t sleep without a blanket even when it’s hot, still, others benefit from a weighted blanket. And while you may want to nix the nightlight, if it gives them comfort you should consider keeping a small light on for them.

● Make the room dark. When the sun is up until 8 or 9 p.m., it’s hard for most kids to sleep. Get room-darkening blinds or curtains to help them.

Read more ideas on getting your kids to sleep from Alaska Sleep.

Getting Teens To Sleep

For teenagers, having control of their sleep time when school is out is an important level of independence. And you want to give them the freedom to both learn from their mistakes and understand how to be responsible for themselves.

One thing you should understand, though, is that sleep works differently in a pubescent body. According to Psych Central, they normally “don’t get sleepy until much later at night.” Teens experience a normal shift in their circadian rhythms, which tells the body when to sleep. It’s also recommended that you keep your teens out of their beds during waking hours, which can make it harder to fall asleep.

Unlike your younger children, you can sit down with your teen and have a conversation on the importance of sleep for her brain. Learn how to respectfully have this conversation with your child from LifeHacker.

Here are more tips on helping teens get to sleep from The Sleep Foundation.

Sleep is important for growing brains, especially teenagers. Take steps to make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep, even during summer break. It will make the transition back to school easier.

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