Summer play all day? Why kids still need a steady sleep routine

Many D.C.-area families are in summer mode — a time to ditch their school sleep schedules and stay up late — but parents may want to adopt a modified school sleep schedule instead.

One such schedule could include a slightly later bedtime that keeps sleep routines in place, said Dr. Anisha Abraham, chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s National.

“What we see is that there can be wild mood swings,” Abraham told WTOP. “Suddenly kids who are used to going to sleep at 8:30 or 9 p.m. are going to sleep much later. And they can become, grumpy and may not have an appetite.”

She said keep the fun of summer by moving sleep times a little later, by roughly 30 minutes. And allow older teens to sleep. But if they have regular activities like camp or summer jobs, make sure they get at least 10 hours a night depending on their age.

Children’s National suggests preschoolers between three and five years get between 10-13 hours of sleep each night. School-aged children between six and 13-years old should sleep between nine and 11 hours, and high schoolers between 14 and 17-years old should get up to 10 hours of bedtime.

“Sleep has a lot to do with kids being calm and focused,” she said. “For all of those reasons are why parents should stick to some level of a schedule.”

And Abraham said nighttime screen rules should stay the same over the summer.

“Screens can be really activating,” she said. “They can interfere with getting that good sleep. I truly recommend trying to get those devices out of kids’ bedrooms at night.”

Plus, families that stick to a sleep routine now will see a big payoff in the fall, Abraham said.

“School’s going to be starting in a few months and it’s really tough to switch back,” she said, adding that “summer sleep routines are going to go a long way to making sure that back to school is a lot easier.”

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up