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Summer Sleep Tips

Our summer days are full of sunny days at the beach, pool, sidewalk chalking, barbecues and riding bikes until sundown. Even though this unstructured season is fun, it can also be a time that bedtime routines fall by the wayside, and children become less rested.

According to Dr. Lori Zaremski, a Manhattan Beach psychologist, “It is important that children get their sleep needs met in order to maintain good health and to be ‘ready to learn’ when the new school year begins.”

Unknown2When possible, Zaremski recommends families try to enjoy summer without deviating drastically from the school year bedtime rules. The United States National Sleep Foundation, recommends most children ages five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep and most teens need 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night for optimal cognitive functioning. Adequate sleep is associated with a stable mood, mental alertness, cooperative behavior, and the ability to pay attention.

“Having sleep deprived kids can result in irritability and noncompliance even during the summer,” she adds.

Some common summer sleep “mistakes” parents make include:

1) Allowing kids to stay up excessively late, and then to sleep in past 10:00 a.m. during summer months.
2) Permitting kids to have access to technology in their bedrooms with no/little restrictions during summer.
3) Setting up a pattern that encourages bedtime battles by “giving in” to the repetitive request, “Can I stay up just a little longer?”

Now that I’m feeling guilty of breaking most of these rules, what can I do to get back on track?

Zaremski offers these sure-fire tips to get your child back on a healthy sleep schedule:

  • Develop a routine and stick with the schedule.
  • Television and other technology should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Parents are encouraged to be mindful of their child’s food and liquid intake after 6:00 p.m. Check labels for caffeine and sweets.
  • Create an environment that is conducive to sleeping, quiet, dark and peaceful.

She also suggests parents begin the transition to school bedtime at least two weeks before the start of the new school year.

“It is important that this be described as the natural evolution of the summer schedule and linked to the excitement of the new year, new teacher, next grade level rather than be placed in a negative light,” she explains.

Now, I’m determined to get my kids back on a more consistent, healthy sleep schedule. Come September, we’ll be ready for a calm and consistent routine. It’s quiet out there. Right?

Sweet dreams.

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.




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