Summer is in full swing, and if you're a parent, that probably means you've loosened the reigns on the sleep schedule for your kids (and possibly yourself). When school lets out for summer break, children of all ages are no longer confined to the rigid schedule of waking up early and heading off for their daily dose of knowledge. That means instead of getting the sleep they need, kids are usually up late, watching TV, chatting with friends or playing on their preferred electronic device.
Now, that may sound like it's all in good fun -- after all, there are worse things a young person can get into than staying up late watching a movie. But staying up well past the "school year bedtime" in the summer and sleeping until noon can have its consequences.
Everyone suffers when they don't get enough sleep, but for teenagers in particular, the risk is perhaps greater than any other age group. Sleep deprived teens are more prone to metal and behavioral issues, substance abuse, and run a higher risk of obesity. These findings are even more jarring given that fact that 90% of American teens aren't getting enough sleep.
We recently wrote a piece detailing the newest recommendations for how much sleep kids should be getting, based on age. Even teens 13-18 need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep, so if your teen is typically up until midnight or later, unless they sleep late until the morning, they're going to seriously throw off their sleep schedule, leaving them susceptible to all of the aforementioned side effects of sleep deprivation.
With all this in mind, it's probably unreasonable to expect for kids to have the same schedule over summer break as they have during school. That's a recipe for anarchy in most households. But there's no reason parents and kids can't come to a compromise, as this article suggests. If your child normally goes to bed at 10 PM and gets up at 6 AM for school, consider extending bedtime by an hour and letting them sleep until 8 AM.
Be wary, though -- loosening the reigns on one end will inevitably affect the other. In other words, letting your child sleep until noon means they'll undoubtedly have plenty of energy late into the night, which throws the entire schedule off track.
And let's be realistic, just because a child is in bed at bedtime doesn't automatically mean they'll be asleep anytime soon -- not with a trusty smartphone to play with. Studies repeatedly show that kids sleep worse with a smartphone nearby. So consider sending your kids to bed without their cell phones, or perhaps turn off the WiFi at a certain point. It may cause a fuss at first, but it will be well worth it to ensure a better night's sleep.
But there's one other factor that may be adversely affecting your child's ability to sleep during the summer, and it has nothing to do with technology. It could be child's bed itself. If you're using heavy linens to cover the bed, it can be very difficult to fall asleep. Consider using lighter sheets on toasty summer evenings. And if you want to make the bed itself more conducive to a comfortable sleeping experience, check out our Hibernation mattress topper! It's made of natural materials that make the entire sleeping surface more breathable, meaning it won't trap heat like other products.
There's a lot of different things we can do to make sure our kids don't fall behind due to lack of sleep in the summer. It's important to see what works best for you and your family in order to ensure they're getting the recommended amount of sleep and waking up refreshed.
And don't worry, kids -- your phones will be waiting for you in the morning. Get some rest.