Tomorrow is our last day of preschool. That means that summer vacation officially starts for my family. Some of you have already left the school year behind and are experiencing the joys of summer.
With all that summer brings - picnics, playing at the park, running in the sprinklers, it also brings with it a lack of routine and therefore, a later bedtime. Around our neighborhood it is not unusual for the kids to play until dark, running from house to house, playing tag, riding bikes or shooting baskets.
For some reason the lack of an official bedtime in the summer makes me a little anxious. I try to keep my kids on some sort of schedule, but it just seems mean of me to make them come in while everyone else is hanging out having fun. And, if you have younger children as I do (5 yrs.) you know that a later to bed does not necessarily mean later to rise.
So how much sleep do kids really need? According to WebMD.com, kids between the ages of 3 and 6 need 10 1/2 to 12 hours of sleep a night. This means going to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. and waking between 6 and 8 a.m. That sounds about right to me. Children up to the age of 12 need at least 10 hours of sleep per night.
Your child's sleep helps:
- manage daily stresses
- promotes growth of bones, muscles and other body tissue
- rejuvenate the immune system
- promote mental alertness the next day
- prevent depression (long term sleep deprivation can cause serious depression)
- prevent psychological problems and disorders like anxiety, attention disorders, bed-wetting and post-traumatic stress disorder. (all possible results of prolonged sleep deprivation)
So, although the freedom and fun of summer are a nice break, try not to lose track of the importance of bedtime. I know I won't.