Lack of sleep can impact behavior, experts say

If staying up late and sleeping in have become part of the kids’ summer routine, you may want to put some limitations on their plans. 

Kids who aren’t well-rested may have trouble focusing or paying attention, be overexcited or jumpy, have difficulty controlling impulses or emotions, or be irritable or fussy, according an article on Akron Children’s Hospital’s website, akronchildrens.org/cms/sharing_blog/1689b31b91c89460. 

The hospital recommends 12 to 13 hours of sleep for school-age children, 10 to 11 hours for middle schoolers and nine hours for teenagers, especially younger teens. 

Parents should maintain a consistent bed time routine, recommends Dr. Greg Omlor, a pediatric pulmonologist who specializes in sleep disorders at the hospital. His other tips include:

Make sure the room is dark, especially if your child goes to bed while it’s still light out. It’s OK to have a small nightlight for younger children who might be afraid of complete darkness. Avoid caffeine after dinner. This includes chocolate and chocolate milk. Don’t allow a TV in the bedroom or watching too close to bedtime, as many programs can get kids excited or upset, making it difficult to wind down. The same goes for video games, computers and other electronic devices. Create a soothing sleep environment. If there’s a lot of noise from traffic or a barking dog, a fan or white-noise machine can drown out distracting sounds. About two weeks before school starts, start shifting their schedule to accommodate rising early for school, adds sleep.org, a website that offers a variety of tips on getting proper rest.