Each day comes with a list of requirements and opportunities. Our school age children have homework, music lessons, or sports demanding their time. To fit everything in our day, bedtime gets pushed back. These activities are good for our children, but not when they are robbing our child of the sleep they need.
Sleep is not just a luxury when you do not have something else to do. Our bodies crave sleep because it is needed for their healthy function. We are learning more and more about the health consequences caused by lack of sleep.
Some of the physical or emotional problems connected with poor sleep are:
Inability to focus or stay on task
Vulnerability to injuries or accidents
Depressed immune system leading to many illnesses
High blood pressure
Poor school performance
As parents we must choose to make sleep a priority. We would not make our child go without food because we are too busy and it is not convenient to give it to them. It is just as important to make sure your child gets enough restful sleep each night.
An early bedtime is mandatory to get the correct amount of sleep each night. There is a non-negotiable start to the morning if your child is in daycare or school. We can make the mistake of thinking the bedtime is flexible according to what our schedule is that day, but the body requires the same number of hours of sleep regardless what is going on in your life.
After the age of four months our bodies operate on a 24-hour circadian rhythm; they are programmed for sleep at certain times. When children sleep according to their body clock the sleep is restorative and they will be able to go to sleep without a bedtime battle. Their body clock is pre-programmed by the sun toward an early bedtime.
When is that ideal bedtime?
Newborns like the night hours and usually their bedtime is between 10 and 12 midnight.
The natural bedtime gradually moves up to between 5 PM and 7 PM by 4 months.
The bedtime will stay between 7 PM and 7:30 PM into school age.
The recommended amount of sleep needed by age is:
Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours of sleep, including naps
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours of sleep, including naps
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours, including naps
School-age (6-12 years): 9-12 hours
Teens (13-18 years): 8-12 hours
Yes, it is easy to find reasons and excuses to avoid that early bedtime. For the emotional and physical health of our children it is important for us to choose to make sleep a priority. The reward is a happier and healthier child,
Benjamin Franklin once said:
“Early to bed, early to rise,
makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
I agree that early bedtimes lead our children to become healthier and smarter. I don’t know about the wealthy part, but it is worth a try.