Many parents might balk at the thought of pushing bedtime earlier for kids once they’re out of the toddler stage. Understandably so, especially if they’ve built their schedule around a certain bedtime that everyone has gotten used to and that works for them. Work, after-school activities, dinner time and even an older sibling’s bedtime can get in the way of an appropriate bedtime for young ones. But an early bedtime is a secret remedy for many sleep issues. Here’s why and how.
Biological Sleep Waves
Children experience naturally occurring biological sleep waves. What does this mean? That there is an optimal window for them to be put to bed where it is easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you miss that window, you risk your child becoming overtired. Overtiredness can lead to bedtime battles, night wakings and even early risings. It is important to understand that a child’s sleep needs vary by age and should be accommodated because it is what is best for them.
How early should my child go to bed?
This can depend on what happened during the (their level of activity) but sometimes, all it takes is pushing bedtime back by as little as 30 minutes to see a difference. Try pushing your bedtime earlier for at least a week to see if you get positive results.
Consistency and routine
Children thrive on routine and consistency, so having an appropriately-timed bedtime at the same time every day, will help your little one adapt and accept sleep better. A consistent bedtime routine can also soothe and calm your child and give him the cues he needs to let him know it’s sleepy time. Make sure to give yourself at least 30 minutes to spend with your child to truly calm him and, as a bonus, it gives you an opportunity for that special bonding time you may have missed during your busy day.
It can be daunting to make big changes, but early bedtime is often the first thing sleep consultants recommend when making changes to the schedule of a child with sleep issues. Children need a lot more sleep than adults and in this fast-paced world we live in, many do not get enough. Try it out for a week or 2 and you may see huge improvements in your child’s sleep. It can be a game-changer!
Magda Jansen is a certified Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, and as a former elementary teacher and current mother, has a passion for the health and happiness of children of all ages. Magda lives in Houston, Texas with her 3 children, their sweet dog, and a husband who still loves to nap.