Summertime and Sleep
Like my kids, I love summer. Carefree days in the sun, swimming, ice cream and staying up late just because it is warm out are all a part of the fun. But, however difficult, keeping a regular bed time for kids year-round -- including during the summer -- is essential.
According to the Better Sleep Council, children need at least nine hours of sleep each night to be healthy, active, and able to perform their best in school, sports and other extracurricular activities. Better Sleep Council Spokesperson and Lifestyle Expert Lissa Coffey offers the following tips to help parents ensure a good night’s sleep for their children.
1. Set a Regular Bedtime For Your Child and Stick to It. A regular bedtime can help make sure your child gets a full night’s rest. The Obama daughters have an 8:30 pm bedtime. This is an ideal time to tuck children in, especially when kids need to be up early for summer activities.
2. Help Your Child Get at Least 9 Hours of Sleep Each Night. To be their best, children need 9-10 hours of sleep every night. This is important, even on the weekends.
3. Don’t Over-Schedule Your Child. Too many summertime activities and commitments can keep children from precious sleep. Allow your child plenty of time during the day for outdoor recreation, summer lessons and chores to ensure that they are not up past their bedtime. And try to avoid scheduling after-dinner activities like club meetings during the week; these tend to be very stimulating.
4. Develop a Sleep Ritual; Help Your Child Unwind Before Bed. Allow your child at least one hour before bedtime to relax and unwind. Try relaxing activities, like taking a bath or reading with your child, to help him or her transition into sleep mode. This is also a special time to share with your child. They’ll fall asleep easier and faster if they can relax before bed. Avoid loud music and television prior to bed, especially violent programming.
5. Avoid Caffeine. Consuming caffeine, found in soft drinks and chocolate, even in the daytime, can make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep.
6. Keep Computers and Television out of the Bedroom. The bedroom should be used for sleep only. The temptation of watching television or going online can be tempting for children once you’ve tucked them in and left the room. Also, be sure radio and MP3 ear pods are out of their ears when you say goodnight!
7. Make Sure Your Child’s Bedroom is Dark. Create a room that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool for the best possible sleep. A small nightlight is fine, if necessary, but a dark room is most conducive for a good night’s sleep. The ideal sleeping temperature is around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Some children like the comforting feel of a heavy blanket on top of them; it’s like being wrapped up in a hug.
8. Pay Attention to Your Child’s Mattress. Handing down an old mattress to a child isn’t a good idea. Because mattresses wear out over time, it’s important to maximize your child’s chances of restful sleep by making sure he or she is sleeping on a mattress that is comfortable and supportive enough in order to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed. As children grow, make sure the mattress is large enough for them. The Better Sleep Council recommends parents evaluate and consider replacing a mattress every seven years.
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