Summer Sleep Routine for Kids Out of School

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nilong Vyas, MD, MPH: Expert Pediatrician and Sleep Consultant

Dr. Nilong Vyas, MD, MPH: Expert Pediatrician and Sleep Consultant

Dr. Nilong Vyas is a board-certified pediatrician with over eight years of experience in her field. She has dedicated her career to helping children and their parents achieve healthier sleep…

Last Updated On September 19th, 2023
Summer Sleep Routine for Kids Out of School

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Maintaining a Summer Sleep Routine: While summer break offers freedom and flexibility, it’s crucial to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule for children to support their physical and emotional well-being, ensuring they get the right amount of sleep for their age.
  • Benefits of Gradual Transition: To avoid abrupt changes when the school year resumes, gradually adjust your child’s sleep schedule during the summer. This approach helps prevent sleep disruptions, battles over bedtime, and grumpy mornings when school starts again.
  • Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Simple strategies like maintaining a comfortable room temperature, using blackout curtains, and limiting screen time before bed can significantly improve children’s sleep quality during the summer months, making the transition back to school smoother.

Summer is here, and school’s out! It’s time for kids to enjoy the warm weather, outdoor adventures, and staying up a little later.

However, it’s essential to remember that good sleep is crucial for a child’s overall health and well-being, even during the summer break. This not only ensures their physical well-being but also plays a role in maintaining their happy and positive temperaments.

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During the summer vacation, children don’t have the usual commitments like school or daycare to wake up for,which can make sleeping-in very tempting. The extended daylight hours, with the sun setting later and later in the evening, can also create difficulties in getting children to bed on time. These factors can disrupt a child’s sleep schedule, leading to reduced quality sleep.

By actively focusing on your child’s sleep during the summer vacation, you can help ensure they get the quality sleep they need for their overall well-being. That’s why we’re here with valuable tips on maintaining a summer sleep routine for your little ones.

Ideal Sleep Duration for Kids

Before we delve into the tips for ensuring your kids get proper rest, it’s crucial to understand the ideal amount of sleep they should be getting.

When setting up a sleep schedule, ensuring that your kids receive the right amount of sleep is essential. Let’s talk about how much sleep kids really need on average:

  • Infants (1-2 years): 11-14 hours per day (including naps)
  • Toddlers/Young Kids (3-5 years): 10-13 hours per day (including naps)
  • Children (6-12 years): 9-12 hours per day
  • Teens (13-18 years): 8-10 hours per day

Keep in mind that each child is unique, so adjust the schedule to meet your child’s specific needs. Inadequate or excessive sleep can lead to various issues. Children with sleep disorders and other special needs may also need extra help getting enough sleep.

See also:

If your little one struggles to maintain healthy sleep habits or consistently oversleeps, it may be wise to consult with their doctor for guidance on a consistent bedtime routine and better sleep habits.

Why Kids Need Sleep Routines

Kids of all ages require quality sleep to support their mental and physical development. Adequate sleep helps them regulate their emotions, stay attentive, and learn effectively.

Furthermore, when kids are well-rested, their immunity and overall mental and physical health tend to improve, as sleep encourages multiple health benefits. See our guides on how each of these individual aspects is tied to good sleep:

Sticking to a consistent bedtime can assist your children in getting the necessary rest. Children thrive on routines, finding comfort and security in structured daily activities, including sleep.

However, maintaining a sleep schedule can be challenging, especially during the longer daylight hours of summer when the sun sets later.

Helping Your Kid Stick to a Summer Sleep Routine

In the quest to maintain a healthy summer sleep routine for your child, establishing consistency is key. Here, we’ll explore effective strategies and a few tips to help your little one stick to their sleep schedule, ensuring they get the rest they need during the summer months.

Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

To maintain a healthy summer sleep schedule for your children, it’s crucial to uphold their school-day routine of waking up at a consistent time. This keeps their circadian rhythms steady, making it easier to transition back into the school schedule when the time comes. Once they’re up, you can decide whether to include dressing and breakfast in the routine, but the key is keeping their wake-up and bedtime consistent.

If the summer bug has already led to late mornings and noon wake-up calls, it becomes challenging to get kids back on track with their sleep schedule. It’s better to stay on course from the beginning to avoid this.

Don’t forget to maintain your nightly routines, especially for younger children. If bedtime stories are a regular part of your evening, continue this practice. Consistency in routine during the day and night is essential in ensuring a healthy sleep schedule for your children throughout the summer.

That is not to say that a disruption in the sleep schedule won’t occur during the summer, but the more disruptions that can be avoided, the better and easier it will be to get back on track once school starts.

Start Your Summer Sleep Routine Early

For school-aged children, maintaining summer sleep routines can be a bit challenging, but it’s important to keep in mind that the school year will resume sooner than you think. While sticking precisely to your regular schedule might not always be possible during the summer, it’s normal to allow for a later start to the day.

However, waiting until the last minute to adjust your child’s sleep schedule before school begins is not advisable. Without a structured routine, summer sleep schedules can quickly become disorganized. If parents wish to shift their child’s nightly routine for the summer, it’s best to do so gradually, with consistent sleep and wake times.

To reset your child’s summer sleep routine, it’s wise to start early and make changes gradually. By taking this approach, you can avoid unpleasant battles and grumpy, exhausted kids when the school year resumes. Gradually transitioning back to a school schedule will make everyone’s life much smoother once school is back in session.

For example, move your child’s bedtime up by 15 minutes every night and wake them up 15 minutes earlier each morning for a few weeks until the start of school for a gradual reset.

Maintain a Comfortable Room Temperature

Keeping the bedroom cool can really help everyone fall asleep more easily during the summer months. You can set your thermostat to a slightly lower temperature a bit before bedtime, as it gets your body ready for sleep. The cooler air naturally makes your kids want to snuggle in and fall asleep more comfortably, even if it’s just a few degrees cooler. Ideally, make it at least a couple of degrees cooler than what the temperature is during the day in the house.

If possible, use a thermostat schedule to automate this process. Also, it’s a good idea to check your kids’ summer bedding and pajamas. If they’re feeling too hot, switch to a lighter blanket and pajamas that keep them cool. This doesn’t just help them fall asleep initially but also ensures they sleep more soundly and comfortably throughout the night. These sleep tips can make a big difference in achieving a restful night’s sleep during the summer.

Have a Comfortable Mattress

Ensuring your kids have the appropriate mattress for their age is essential for quality sleep and more restful nights. Just like adults, kids and teens can struggle to fall asleep fast or wake up in pain from a poor mattress that doesn’t properly support their bodies.

If you’re looking to replace their mattress with a newer model, we suggest consulting our guides on the mattress needs of growing children:

So, remember, more sleep and the right mattress can go a long way in ensuring your children are well-rested and ready to tackle their day.

Protect Sleep from Early Morning Sunlight

During the summer months, one common challenge in getting your kids to bed is the longer daylight hours. The sun is shining, and it’s tough to fall asleep when it’s still bright outside. Like Anna says, “The sky is awake, so I am awake, so we have to play!” But there are tricks to create a sleepy atmosphere, even before the sun sets completely.

Blackout curtains are incredibly handy here. Maintaining a cool and dark bedroom is crucial for quality sleep, as emphasized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just shut those curtains before bedtime to help their eyes naturally slide closed and indicate to their bodies that it is time for sleep.

A dark room also makes it less tempting to hop out of bed and start playing with toys. Using blackout curtains can be a game-changer in ensuring your kids get their necessary hours of sleep despite the summer sun.

Promote Physical Activity

Physical activity during the day, like swimming or playing sports, is an excellent way to burn off energy and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Regular exercise is a key part of good sleep, so try to get your kids moving with indoor and outdoor activities or even have them help out with chores around the house.

This applies to adults too. If you spend your evenings at home on the couch watching TV or playing video games, it becomes tougher to naturally fall asleep at bedtime.

So, encourage physical activities, especially in the summer when the weather is perfect for outdoor fun. It not only makes sleep a bit easier but also adds to the enjoyment during a family vacation.

But ensure that the exercise is not happening too close to bedtime. Try to limit strenuous activity to end at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Consider the Timing of Daytime Naps

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule for young ones is vital, even during an exciting summer vacation when you want them to relish every moment. Ensuring they stick to their nap schedule is key.

When you go on vacation in a different time zone, taking short power naps can help you recharge and fight off jet lag’s effects, ensuring you fully enjoy your travel adventures. These quick breaks can give you a burst of energy, so you can enthusiastically immerse yourself in the local culture and activities.

Believe us, they’ll be in a happier mood and will savor their vacation much more if they get their usual nap. Skipping it may result in a tantrum-filled adventure, and nobody will have a good time during your summer vacation. So, keep their wake times consistent, and make sure to incorporate a calming wind-down routine to help them get that necessary extra sleep.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed for Better Sleep

While it’s crucial to limit screen time for kids, it’s absolutely vital for teenagers. They have access to endless entertainment on their phones, laptops, and video games. Teens often stay up all night having fun and then sleep the day away. It’s essential to establish a consistent sleep schedule that ensures they get a sufficient amount of sleep.

And if your child is interested in a TV in the bedroom, we recommend putting the brakes on the idea. A TV in the bedroom is apt to distract them from good bedtime habits.

If your teenager is extremely bored, it becomes much harder to stay up all night without the lure of the internet. Many factors can disrupt a child’s natural circadian rhythm and disturb their sleep, including the blue light emitted from devices.

So, set a specific time for turning off their devices (and consider applying this rule to yourself too). This not only helps them meet their sleep needs but also teaches them to set their own boundaries with technology that can impact sleep in the future.

Don’t Delay Until School Begins

Before you realize it, school will be back in session, and if you’re struggling to stick to your schedule, it’s essential to keep this in mind. Although we’d all love to maintain the same routine throughout the summer, it’s quite normal to start your day a bit later during these months.

A 2018 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source found that children who have nightly bedtime routines experience improved sleep outcomes. These benefits include going to bed earlier, falling asleep faster, waking up less often during the night, and enjoying longer sleep durations.

However, you shouldn’t postpone adjusting your child’s bedtime schedule until just before school resumes. To avoid those dreadful fights and the misery of having tired and grumpy kids when school restarts, it’s wise to do both yourself and your children a favor by gradually transitioning back to school hours.

This approach will make life much more manageable for everyone when school begins again. So, remember the importance of planning for the hour change as you prepare to return to school.

For Teenagers

Allowing teens to enjoy some extra sleep is perfectly fine. It’s a natural part of being a teenager, as they need lots of sleep to grow (about 8 to 10 hours of it) but are often wired to stay up late.

However, aim to have your teen up and about no later than 9 or 10 a.m. This simple adjustment can significantly ease the transition back to school and sidestep issues of teen sleep recession.


What is the fastest way to fix a child’s sleep schedule?

The fastest way to fix a child’s sleep schedule is to gradually adjust their bedtime and wake-up time by about 15 minutes earlier or later each day, depending on the desired change. As summer ends, it’s likely you’ll want to get them adjusted to waking up earlier to prepare for the school day.

To make the adjustment easier on your child, help them maintain a consistent sleep routine, limit their exposure to screens before bedtime, and ensure they get plenty of natural light during the day to help regulate their internal clock.

Should kids stay up later in the summer?

While some flexibility in bedtime during the summer is normal and can be enjoyable for kids, it’s essential to strike a balance. Keeping kids up excessively late can disrupt their sleep patterns and affect their overall well-being. Plus, it means having to make more drastic changes when summer ends and school starts again.

Per our research, experts advise maintaining a reasonable bedtime during the summer to ensure they get enough quality sleep. For younger children, going to bed no more than an hour later is best, while teenagers can have a more relaxed bedtime and enjoy a bedtime that’s up to two hours later.

How do I keep my kids cool at night in summer?

To keep kids cool at night in summer, ensure their room is well-ventilated and have them sleep with fans on or use air conditioning if available. Dress them in lightweight, breathable pajamas, and use light, moisture-wicking bedding. Additionally, consider using blackout curtains to block out the heat of the sun during the day.

How much screen time should I allow kids in the summer?

Screen time recommendations for children remain consistent throughout the year. Experts recommend limiting screen time for kids to no more than one to two hours per day for recreational use.

Suggest outdoor activities and engage in screen-free family time during the summer to promote a healthy balance. When your children engage in screen time, encourage frequent breaks that give their eyes a chance to rest.

What is the best bedtime for a child?

The right bedtime can vary by age and individual, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours of sleep, typically with bedtime around 7 to 8 PM.
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours of sleep, with bedtime around 7 to 8 PM.
  • School-age children (6-12 years): 9-12 hours of sleep, with bedtime around 8 to 9 PM.
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): 8-10 hours of sleep, with bedtime often around 9 to 10 PM or later, depending on individual needs and school schedules.


Crafting a summer sleep routine for children out of school is a proactive way to prioritize their sleep quality and ensure they receive enough rest during the break. By planning ahead and gradually implementing an earlier bedtime, parents can help their children maintain healthy sleep patterns.

Incorporating bedtime rituals such as brushing teeth not only promotes good oral hygiene but also signals the body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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