Warren pediatrician offers tips to keep kids on a sleep schedule - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Warren pediatrician offers tips to keep kids on a sleep schedule this summer

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WARREN, Ohio -

Longer days and shorter nights mean more time for summer fun. But it can also mean parents struggle to keep kids on a sleep schedule. 

Dr. Therese Linnon D.O., a pediatrician with Akron Children's Hospital, said sticking to a schedule, even in the summer, is vital for kids' health. 

"It's very important, even during the summer, that they get this sleep because it's going to affect their overall physical, mental, and emotional well being," Dr. Linnon explained.  "Kids do so much better when they're on their routine. Especially when we're talking about sleep." 

Dr. Linnon said that depending on their age, kids need at least eight to ten hours of sleep. Younger kids require even more. 

Not getting enough sleep can have detrimental impacts on a child's health. 

"It can affect your hormones; it can affect your emotional well being, feel like not themselves and cranky and tired and fussy. It can also affect their health physically. Many studies have shown that if children do not get the eight to ten hour recommended dose of sleep every night that this can lead to increased rates of obesity," Linnon said. 

Also, Linnon said headaches are commonly suffered by kids who don't get enough sleep. 

For most, it is impossible to "catch up" on sleep that's lost. Instead, oversleeping can exacerbate the problem and throw sleep schedules even farther out of sync. 

"We all know that there are times when the family wants to do things, and kids would like to stay up later, and that's totally ok once in a while for them to get off their rhythm and their schedule. But as soon as it's over, it's important to get them right back on to that typical sleep schedule. Whatever that schedule may be," Dr. Linnon said. 

Fortunately, there are some things parents can do. 

Dr. Linnon suggests scheduling summer time activities around the little one's sleep schedules; including naps. Try to keep family outings in sync with young children's' regular bedtimes. 

To help teenagers from sleeping too much during the day, Linnon suggests schedule appointments and activities for around 10 am to help them get up and out of the house. 

"Can't really make up for lost sleep, but it's ok for those teenagers to sleep in on summer mornings or the weekends. Try not to let them sleep past ten or noon because if they sleep past, then it's going to affect their circadian rhythm," Dr. Linnon explained. 

If your little one does get off schedule, Dr. Linnon said it is important to get them back on track as soon as possible and not wait until the school year is about to begin. 

First, Linnon suggests making a space that is conducive for children to sleep. 

"Kids sleep better in a dark, quiet room, and so as the summer delays the sunlight, you can do things like getting a blackout shade or make a blackout shade so that it looks dark in your kids' sleeping room," she said. 

"You can make it cooler by running a fan. And sometimes, younger kids especially will respond to very soft noises, so just making a really good sleep environment, wherever that may be." 

Furthermore, to adjust a child's sleep habits, it may take several days to get them back on track. Dr. Linnon suggests moving bedtime slightly each day to make the process easier. 

"It's best to adjust by 15 minutes every night. So just set their schedule back by 15 minutes every night until they are sleeping at the time that you would want them to," she explained. 

But above all, Dr. Linnon said don't miss out on the experiences of summer fun, but to keep the importance of sleep during the summer. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following amounts of sleep for each age group:

  • Infants four months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children one to two years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children three to five years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children six to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to ten hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
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