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Why Early Bedtimes Are So Important For Children

Boy 4 years sleeping bed old alarm clock brick wallWe all know the saying “early to bed early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.” It seems like a logical enough statement, and I believe this applies to children too. Getting a good nights’ rest is important to help you get through your day feeling energized and rested so you can take on the challenges of life.

So how important is getting to bed nice and early?

Well, for starters, most toddlers and pre-schoolers are on a schedule, with activities and playdates and outings in the mornings, or they need to be up and ready to go with you when you run errands. If they have to wake up early, it only makes sense that they get to bed early too.

Even if kids have less scheduled lives, this doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them to go to bed at 11 and sleep in until noon. Here’s why:

  1. A recent University of South Australia study on sleep times found older children (9 and up) who go to bed earlier are less likely to be obese than those who stay up late. This is partly due to staying up late on iPods, computers and TV. Going to bed early when they’re young will set up a routine kids can stick to.
  2. Good sleep equals good health. Soon enough your children will be getting up early to go to school, and having enough sleep is crucial for brain function, energy and even their immune systems.
  3. In adults, night-owl habits can actually lead to insomnia. If your child gets used to late nights early on, it can be hard to break the pattern and this could lead to sleep issues in adulthood.
  4. It’s very easy to get behind on sleep if you let your child stay up late. There are always unforeseen issues that pop up in the night that can rob your child of precious sleeptime, such as teething and illness. A child who has gone to bed at 7 and wakes in the night will be better rested than a child who went to bed at midnight. And as much as we might think our child can just sleep all morning to make up for it, life doesn’t always cooperate. Missing even an hour of sleep a night can build up a “sleep debt” in your child that, while it might not appear obvious at first, can make them more sluggish and irritable.

It’s so important to keep your child’s early bedtime stable and consistent. You can make an exception now and then, of course. For example, on a trip to Disneyland with my children it was totally worth it to keep them up to see the fireworks. That created a priceless memory. But keeping them up late happens very rarely, because I know that sleep is so important to their overall health. You cannot “make up” for lost sleep over the weekend by getting your kids to bed on time or a little earlier on Sunday night. It may take them all week to catch up and they will suffer for it.

The truth is, the rest of the world gets up early and when your child starts going to school and then to college and then gets a job, getting up early will just be a fact of life. Going to bed early should be one too.

The Sleep Sense™ Program for Baby Sleep & Child Sleep DisordersIf you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step system designed to get your baby, toddler, or preschooler sleeping 12 hours straight through the night, have a look at The Sleep Sense Program. It’s the same resource that’s been trusted by over 109,000 families!

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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