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Summer Sleep: Long Days, Short Nights

summer sleep

Switching up schedules is a given in the summer as barbeques, beaches and ballgames coax us to be out and about. The longer days and sunny weather put everybody in the mood to stay up late and cram as much fun as we can into the season. But do you realize how summer is affecting your sleep or your kids’ sleep schedules?

According to sleep experts, little kids (3–5 years old) should be getting between 11 to 13 hours of sleep at night, especially if they have stopped napping regularly. The 6- to 12-year-olds need 10 or 11 hours. And those moody teenagers need at least nine! Most teens only tend to get about seven hours of sleep on average. (See Sleep in Adolescents.) And we all know that the average American adult is perpetually sleep deprived.

A late or short night here and there may not seem to wear anybody ragged, but you can’t hope to make up that summer sleep on the weekend if a regular bedtime for everyone has all but disappeared. Whenever possible, it really is best to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. These routines help the body and brain know when to ease up and when to engage which greatly improves your sleep. And good sleep greatly improves your health all year round.

Try to Keep a Sleep Schedule

If your family hung out in the neighbor’s backyard until nearly 11:00 pm last night, you’re going to have to expect some sleeping-in or a nap the next day. Overall, it’s better to try and keep a regular bedtime schedule, even if you’ve pushed it back a bit from the school year. Anyone on a summer break or vacation could even feel like they are being lazy by day, so why worry so much about sleeping at night. But keeping some consistency will help better sleep patterns when things get back to (“so-called”?) normal.

Prep for Back to School Bedtimes

Slowly shifting a later summer bedtime (for your kids and for grown-ups!) can be done in 15-minute increments. The week or so before school starts, set bedtimes back another quarter-hour each night or every two nights. That gradual shift can make all the difference when alarms start going off earlier than we want them to. Try this method to offset time changes if you are traveling abroad for vacation, too.

Just because that big ball of light in the sky is out more than you might be, you’ll get more out of those bright days if you can respect your sleep needs.

See more Tips to Promote a Good Night’s Sleep >>