How to Manage a Healthy Child’s Sleep During Summer Vacation

With summer vacation around the corner, it is important to think about one thing kids love about summertime – sleeping in! Maintaining a consistent sleep routine in the summer can be difficult. After a whole school year of early alarms and rushing out the door, it is tempting to stay up late at night and wake up later in the morning. But, children need adequate sleep regardless of the time of year!

Even though it’s summer, when possible, children should go to sleep at approximately the same time and wake up at approximately the same time every day.

  • Enforce a consistent sleep schedule that allows for a sufficient amount of sleep. This may mean your child has to go to bed when the sun is still up. If your child is having difficulty falling asleep in summer because there is sunlight so late into the evening, consider investing in blackout curtains or shades for his or her bedroom to create a restful space. For young children, remind them that bedtime is approaching even though it may still be light out.
  • Create a restful sleeping environment. Make sure your child has a cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable sleep environment. Put away electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and remove all electronics from the bedroom.

Lights can go out at different times for different children in the family depending on how much sleep they need.

  • For adolescents and teens, the summer sleep schedule may be less regimented than for younger children. Allowing your teen to sleep in is okay but within reason. While this extra sleep can be beneficial, it may also result in a shifted or delayed schedule with teens going to bed later than usual and sleeping later than usual.  This can be problematic when school starts and your teen has to go to bed early and rise early. Try to keep weekend wake-ups within an hour or so of their usual time.
  • If your child is going to bed later but still getting up early in the morning, then your child may be getting less sleep. As during the school year, this can interfere with all aspects of a child’s functioning, including growth, development, mood, and performance.

When the summer is nearing its end, start to plan ahead for the return of those early morning alarms by adjusting your child’s wake-up time gradually. Two to three weeks before school starts, begin shifting your child’s sleep schedule by setting a bedtime and wake time that allows for enough sleep, and then move the bedtime and wake time 15 minutes earlier every few nights until the desired sleep schedule is reached.

American Academy of Pediatrics (2017). Healthy sleep habits: How many hours does your child need? Retrieved from

Beebe, D. W. (2011). Cognitive, behavioral, and functional consequences of inadequate sleep in children and adolescents. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 58(3), 649–665.

Paruthi S., Brooks L. J., D’Ambrosio C., Hall, W. A., Kotagall, S., Lloyd, R. M. … Wise, M. S.  (2016). Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: A consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(6), 785-786.

Related 5210 Resources:
5210 and Healthy Sleep

How Much Sleep Do Children Need?

Getting enough sleep is essential for children to be healthy. Children who get enough sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

Children who get an insufficient amount of sleep can develop attention, behavior, and learning problems. Insufficient sleep can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries and health issues, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and depression. In teenagers who do not get enough sleep, there is an increased risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts. On the other hand, regularly getting too much sleep has been linked to health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and mental health problems.

As children grow, they need less sleep, but how much is appropriate? In 2016, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released new sleep guidelines for children. These guidelines are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The recommendations for the number of hours of sleep children should get on a regular basis in a 24-hour period are as follows:

  • Infants* 4 months to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours
  • Children 1 to 2 years of age: 11 to 14 hours
  • Children 3 to 5 years of age: 10 to 13 hours
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age: 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age: 8 to 10 hours

*Recommendations for infants younger than 4 months are not included due to the wide range of normal variation in duration and patterns of sleep and insufficient evidence for associations with health outcomes.

You can improve your child’s sleep and ensure he or she gets the recommended number of hours by establishing and maintaining a consistent sleep routine. Children should go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same times every day, even on weekends. Creating an environment conducive to good sleep, such as putting away electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime; removing all electronics from the bedroom; and making sure your child has a cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable sleep environment can help ensure your child gets enough sleep.

Additional Resources:
5210 and Healthy Sleep

Paruthi, S., Brooks, L. J., D’Ambrosio, C., Hall, W. A., Kotagal, S., Lloyd, R. M., … Wise, M. S.. (2016). Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: a consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(6), 785–786.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Statement of Endorsement: Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations. Pediatrics, 138(2), e20161601