“Just 10 minutes more? Pleeeease!”
“But I don’t have to get up early tomorrow…”
“Can I just finish watching this ONE show?”
Those may be some of the pleas and rationalizations you’ll hear from your children this summer. Once school is done and they’re on break, it seems they think everything has to be on break—including their regular daily routine.
Each year, while your children are looking forward to the freedom summertime brings from that routine, you may find yourself longing for school to start again.
The topsy-turvy chaos that characterizes every summer break can easily leave you stressed and drained.
Are you just doomed to feel that way every year?
Keep Yourself Sane – Use a Healthy Summer Sleep Schedule for Your Children
Becoming lenient about your children’s bedtime during summer break can be so much more appealing than having to muster the discipline to stick to a more stable schedule. You may feel that it’s really not a big deal.
However, ensuring that your children get enough rest is really worth the effort considering the list of negative consequences that a lack of sufficient sleep can have.
Insufficient sleep and an irregular bedtime schedule can have disastrous effects on your child’s state of mind and emotions. If you want your child to behave better during waking hours, you need to make sure they get adequate sleep. It’s as simple as that. Unless you enjoy dealing with a full-blown meltdown during what is supposed to be a fun and relaxing summer day activity for the family. Unquestionably, your child’s bad mood will also affect your own.
Lack of focus/alertness
Just one hour less sleep per night can decrease your child’s cognitive performance. Without enough rest, their neurons become so exhausted that they no longer can carry out their functions well. Your child’s focus, attention, and alertness begin to drift. Their judgment becomes flawed. Lamentably, that can put their health and safety at risk. This means that a sports activity, for example, can pose a higher risk of injury for your child due to inattention and poor decision-making. Obviously, you would want to limit those worries as much as possible.
When your child doesn’t get enough rest, their body doesn’t recover as well and begins lacking energy. Eventually, it signals its need for more energy-dense foods by changing hormone levels—in essence, causing your child to crave sugary and fatty foods, such as ice cream, candy, pizza, or hot dogs. Combine this with the fact that, in general, many children spend more time being inactive during the summer break and you can see why that translates into weight gain. It’s best to control those problems before they cause your child and yourself any headaches.
Difficulties transitioning back
In order to transition their children back to a school schedule, many parents start moving back bedtimes when the beginning of school approaches. It’s a commendable effort. However, it may take several weeks to do this correctly and without impairing your child’s abilities for learning in the early weeks of school. Instead of spending half the summertime transitioning back, why not simply continue with a consistent sleep schedule during vacation time, preventing the deviation in the first place?
A Good Summer Bedtime Routine for All Ages
In order for children to be healthy and not lack the energy they need to be active, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amounts of sleep:
- 6-13 years old: 9-11 hours/night
- 14-17 years old: 8-10 hours/night
- 18-25 years old: 7-9 hours/night
So, how can you help your child get the full amount of sleep they require each night?
Have a daily routine
While your child may beg and bargain to stay up a little bit longer, you know they’re not very good at showing self-control. You, on the other hand, realize that their body needs regularity, no matter what they think. Therefore, make sure that they begin winding down at least an hour before bedtime and keep a similar pre-bedtime routine as during the school year. It will help boost the muscle memory that tells their body that it’s time to sleep.
Don’t over-schedule activities
Certainly, a routine is good, but resist over-scheduling your child’s day with too many activities. Allowing them some time to play at their own pace will reduce stress. Less stress translates into deeper and more restful sleep.
Make the sleep environment inviting
Ensuring that your child is comfortable will aid them to fall asleep easier and get a more sound sleep. That means they should have a good and supportive mattress, room temperature should ideally range between 68-72 degrees, and their bedroom should be technology-free. In fact, it’s a good idea to have them shut off the electronics some 30 minutes before their scheduled bedtime to ensure quality sleep.
In order to keep yourself sane and allow your children to truly enjoy their summer break, make the effort to provide the structure they need. Above all, help your children see for themselves why sleep is so important for their physical, mental, and emotional health.