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4 tips to manage your child’s summer sleep schedule

Posted 7/1/2018 by Carol Rosen, MD
Director, Pediatric Sleep Center, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

For many kids, summer is a time to enjoy the longer days by staying up later with friends or family. While you may be more relaxed about your child’s sleep schedule during the summertime, it may wreak havoc when it’s time to go back to school. Here are a few tips to make sure your kids get sound sleep throughout the summer and return to a routine once school starts.

Illustration of young girl dreaming

1. Know your sleep numbers

“No matter the season, kids need a certain number of hours of sleep each night for better behavior, mental health, memory and a stronger immune system,” says Carol Rosen, MD, Director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s. “For optimal health, preschoolers need a minimum of 10 hours of sleep, school-aged children need at least nine hours, and teens need at least eight hours. Infants and toddlers will need more hours of sleep per day, but often get those additional hours with their daytime naps.”

Children who regularly miss out on enough sleep have more behavioral issues, are more irritable and have trouble concentrating. They are also prone to depression, high blood pressure and obesity.

Carol Rosen, MD

Carol Rosen, MD

2. Try to stay consistent

If you adjust your child’s bedtime in the summer, try to keep sleep and wake times consistent. For example, if your 12-year-old’s summer bedtime is 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., try not to stray too far from that time every night, weekdays and weekends.

“Waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at night at a time that gives your children the optimal number of hours of sleep for their age are two of the most important things you can do for your child’s health and development,” says Dr. Rosen.

3. Make a gradual shift at summer’s end

Don’t wait until the night before school starts to shift your children back to a regular sleep schedule. “A week or two before school begins, start moving bedtimes and wake times earlier in 15-minute increments,” suggests Dr. Rosen. “Keep adjusting by 15 minutes every few days until your child is fully back on schedule. Ideally, kids should be back on their sleep schedule at least a few days before the first day of school.”

4. Encourage healthy sleep habits

Once your children are back at school, Dr. Rosen recommends following these healthy habits to ensure they get enough sleep year-round:

  • Make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity during the day.
  • Keep electronic devices out of your child’s bedroom and stop all screen time at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, dark and comfy.

Does your child have a snoring problem?

You may be interested in the Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy Trial for Snoring (PATS). The study will help us learn the best treatment for mild sleep-disordered breathing, a condition in which children have snoring and minimal breathing problems during sleep, but do not have apnea (stopping breathing during sleep).

Who may participate?

  • Children between ages 3 and 12 who snore during sleep
  • Children who have not been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea
  • Children who have not had their tonsils and adenoids removed

Join our study

Parents and participants will be paid for their time, effort and study-related expenses. For more information, call Heather Rogers, Research Coordinator at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, at 216-368-0475. Please leave a voice message that includes your name and phone number.

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