With the school year is ending, children and their parents are looking forward to a summer of fun and relaxation. During the summer vacation months, many families relax bedtimes and bedtime routines. Not only is it harder to get children to go to sleep when it’s still light outside, but there’s no pressure to rustle the kids out of bed early to catch the school bus. Many parents allow their children to stay up a little later to watch TV or play computer games.
There’s nothing wrong with relaxing the rules during the summer — as your children probably remind you daily, it’s vacation. But children still need an adequate amount of nightly sleep. Research shows that today’s teen gets one hour less sleep than their great-grandparents received when they were teens a century ago and 20 minutes less sleep than their parents got at the same age.
A recent study of 690,747 children in 20 countries conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia compared the sleeping habits of children between 1905 and 2008. Study results revealed that children are losing 45 seconds of sleep each year.
So what’s robbing your children of the sleep they need? Researchers found a direct relationship between the decrease in children’s sleep time and advances in electronic technology. Today, television, computers, iPods, iPads and smartphones provide attractive inducements for children to stay awake longer. Skype, IM and texting allow teens to stay connected to their friends even after parents turn out the lights.