Put Your Kids To Bed Earlier, Because Science Says It’s Good For Their Health & Yours

9
2091

Our kids’ first birthday is a big deal at our house, but it’s not because cake-smashing is our favorite activity. While we love getting to bathe a child encased in chocolate, what we’re really excited about is the magic that happens for our kids at age one: they finally start sleeping better at night.

Have you ever met someone who wished their kid wouldn’t sleep? Um, no. Because sleep is awesome, right? And science is finally confirming some long-held biases – to the point that moms (and dads) everywhere are finally vindicated by what science finally has to say on the subject of an early kids’ bedtime.

Okay, so we’re also a little baffled that somebody spent good money to study this, but whatever.

An Early Kids’ Bedtime is Good for Everyone

Between 2004 and 2009, researchers in Australia tracked thousands of families’ sleep habits, as well as their physical and mental states of well-being.

Their conclusion?

Kids with bedtimes before 8:30 PM were happier and healthier. And so were the rest of their families. Not only were the family members physically healthier and happier, they were also mentally and emotionally better off.

And you know what? Those results match the 2004 National Sleep Study Poll results. They found that kids who went to bed by 9 PM had significantly fewer sleep problems, got better sleep, and had an overall better sleep hygiene.

Our Kids Go to Bed Earlier than their Friends

Through trial and error, we quickly discovered that our kids require an early bedtime. How early? Well, for our littlest kids that’s 6:30 PM. For our school-aged kids, they’re in bed by 8. I’m just glad they haven’t started asking their friends about bedtimes, because I already have. And our kids are the first ones to sleep each night.

But you know what? It’s what our kids need. They need a full night of sleep to be functional, friendly people. When they go to bed late, we’re in for several days of cranky, whiny, and entitled behavior – and earlier bedtimes. Going to an event isn’t worth that, so I’m pretty sure our neighbors think we’re total homebodies. Okay, so we are. But it’s also so our kids can develop good sleep patterns and sleep hygiene. And be pleasant the next morning.

I’ve had family and friends ask me if we couldn’t just shift their whole sleep routine, letting them sleep in each morning. Um, I’ve tried it. It triggers a sleep regression. And it doesn’t matter what I do – these kids are up by 6:30 AM. Well, unless they’re sick. But that doesn’t count.

Others have recommended that I let my kids nap so they can stay up later. Again, it doesn’t work. My kids quit napping by 18 months, despite my best efforts.

And others casually remark that their husband (or partner) doesn’t get home early enough, so they have to have a later bedtime so that their kids have other-parent time. Nope. Doesn’t work for us. In fact, my husband shifted his schedule – so that he’s going to work before the kids are up. That way, he can spend time with them when he gets home from work – and before they go to bed.

We’re lucky – I know that not everyone has the luxury to switch their work schedule to accommodate bedtimes. But in our household, bedtime is stinking SACRED.

Because We Need that Time, too

Having time each night? Y’all, it’s amazing. It’s essential. And it’s what rejuvenates us for the next day. After the kids are in bed, we’re able to juggle time for each other, projects, binge watching Netflix, or just laying in bed so we can read a book.

And because we’ve got that time to unwind and prepare for the next day, we’re actually going to bed at a decent hour. Maybe 10:30 PM is early for you, but those couple extra hours of sleep make all the difference in my energy levels throughout the week.

Because you know what? Having energy to be present, to parent with love and logic, and to help my kids solve their own problems has been a huge shift from the survival mode of parenting small children. I’m happier, healthier, and excited for each day. And I don’t mean just physically – but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Life is so much better with a good night’s sleep, y’all.

So thank you, science, for studying the obvious – that we all need earlier bedtimes. Because I’m sure one day I’ll reference your conclusions for the early bedtimes – as will countless of other moms who need a bedtime break already.

When is bedtime at your house? Do you think an earlier bedtime would help or hurt your family?

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Born and raised in the Southwest, Kimberly blames the desert heat for her dry sense of humor. She also managed to acquire the slightest of Southern drawls while living in South Carolina. Kimberly now lives in Utah with her husband, their 4 beautiful children, and their dog. In her spare time, Kimberly enjoys reading, eating good food, spending time with her family, attempting to garden, and writing about all of the things at KimberlyCStarr.com. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
 

 

 

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Well if SCIENCE says so. 🙂 I read a great article from the perspective of a working father who admitted it was selfishness to keep their kids up later so he could see them. It made sense for their family, just as *attempting* an early bedtime makes sense for ours.

  2. YES YES YES! Some of our family have questioned why our kiddos go to bed so early and I’ve had to tell them the pediatrician says kids need that much sleep …

    And when my kids can tell me they’re ready for bed (or a nap), I feel pride knowing we’ve done a good job teaching them to follow their body’s sleepy cues.

    And when we hear our family having issues getting their kids to sleep at a decent hour, we’re a little smug LOL.

    I love having the time to unwind and spend with my husband at night too 😀

    • Right?? Time with the husband is SO important. And we must have the same pediatrician, because mine is totally chill with taking the blame for these kinds of things – even though I’m happy to own it!

  3. We have always swore by setting a beditime routine by three months and sticking to it, touch wood we have had no bedtime/ sleep issues, 7pm they know it’s bedtime no argument as that’s how it’s always been. We do allow for the occasional break from routine now they are getting older but not consistently or we pay big time!! They function well, are healthy eaters and are developing good relationship skills with others, all down to the sleep I say!!!

  4. I totally agree with this and know that my kids do MUCH better when they are in bed before 8pm. I’m the hypocrite however as I stay up WAY too late every night even when I know I need more sleep. One of these days I’m going to start taking care of myself too! ha ha.

  5. My kids are 6 and 8….. and every night, they’re in bed by 7:00 pm. They’re back up by 5:45, but they’re well-rested.

    My family has always questioned my strict bedtime routine…….but for us, it works. When we do decide to let them stay up later, we’ve got to deal with cranky irritable kids…… just not worth it !

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