Children thrive when on a routine, and creating a routine for bedtimes and naptimes is just another way to show them expectations and to help indicate to them that brushing teeth and putting pajamas on, for example, are the first steps to an end result of, in this case, sleep. The earlier you are able to get children to sleep, the better and longer they sleep, and better sleep for them means better sleep for you and a more productive day for the both of you. Early bedtimes are great for mental health, better sleep, and some special quality time for your little ones.
Mental health for a child can be described as overall happiness and absence of irritability, and studies in the field of Pediatrics show that improved sleep has an impact on emotional stability and academic performance in elementary aged children. By creating an early bedtime, you as a parent are laying the foundation of productivity for the following day. Your child will have better focus and be more alert after having a fulfilling night’s sleep and be better capable of interacting with peers and completing school work. Good sleep also reduces the risk of your child not wanting to get into bed at night. When sleep becomes a struggle and not relaxing for kids, then they are more apt to resist going to sleep at night. Keep the bedtime routine and early, and sleep should be a welcome thing to babies, toddlers, and kids alike.
There are a few lesser-known no-nos associated with children’s bedtimes as well. Overtiring children for instance, contrary to what you would think, do nothing but make bedtime and going to sleep harder. The body produces alerting hormones when overtired, and these hormones make going to sleep and staying asleep through the night much harder. Putting a child to bed late also increases the chance of them waking up early because the child is not skilled at putting himself or herself to sleep on their own in many cases. Late bedtimes and overtiring do nothing but hinder the quality of a child’s sleep and are further evidence that early bedtimes are a good idea.
Still not convinced that putting your little ones to bed early is a good idea? Let’s view bedtime as an extension of your quality time with your child. The start of a bedtime routine is usually changing out of day clothes and into pajamas with or without a bath in between. After that, whether indirectly or directly, you tuck your child into bed and have the opportunity to choose a calming activity to help lull them into slumber. You can read a book, sing a lullaby, do nightly prayers, capture some extra hugs and snuggles, and spend some very sweet and loving quality time together. Getting your kid off the screen and doing activities that relax them will prepare them for deep and long sleep. After spending quality time with them, you then have the next hours all to yourself and your significant other. This helps with not losing that marriage spark.
So what is the right amount of sleep, and how early is too early? You will want to put children to sleep an hour to two hours after dinner. Plan for dinner time to be at least that amount of time before the calculated bedtime. Reference the chart below for the amount of sleep each age range needs on a daily basis.
|Age||Hours of Sleep Needed Each Day|
|Newborns: 0 - 3 Months||14 to 17 Hours|
|Infants: 4 - 11 Months||12 to 15 Hours|
|Toddlers: 1 - 2 Years||11 to 14 Hours|
|Preschoolers: 3 - 5 Years||10 to 13 Hours|
|School-Age Kids: 6 - 13 Years||9 to 11 Hours|
|Teenagers: 14 - 17 Years||8 to 10 Hours|