The Importance of an Early Bedtime
Many parents are well aware that kids who get plenty of rest at night experience a better quality of life. Kids who go to bed early are often less moody and much more attentive than their peers who may not be getting sufficient sleep.
There is a wealth of information stating that adequate sleep for children can positively impact scores of issues from obesity to aggression issues. However, mothers benefit from this as well, it turns out.
A study conducted every two years by Growing Up In Australia has confirmed that mothers whose children go to bed around 8:30 p.m. show a marked improvement in their mental health.1
This news doesn't come as a surprise for most mothers. Bedtime has long been the time for mothers to relax after a long day without the stress that comes with parenting. It’s that one moment in the day they can take a breather (dads too).
Mothers Need The Extra Rest
Aside from taking care of their children, many mothers work outside of the home, adding more mental stress to their already full plates. Mothers spend more time than their partners attending to the needs of the household and their families.
While women see a significant decrease in their sleep cycle after children, men with children don't experience the same decrease in sleep.
In fact, there is virtually no difference between the sleep patterns of men without children and men with children.2
Studies have shown that women need more sleep than men do, so this time after bedtime is crucial for women to use to rejuvenate themselves.
Getting your children to bed early is much easier said than done. Even getting to bed on time can result in defiance and arguments. Despite this, setting up a consistent bedtime routine will benefit both you and your children.
If you have a difficult time getting your children to go to sleep, consider the distractions that are going on around them before they go to bed.
Screens and Devices Play A Role
Kids often spend their time in front of a computer screen or a television until the moment they go to bed.
Barring any sleep disorders, consider incorporating a few of the following tips into your bedtime routine. Ignore the ones that can't fit into your nightly routine.
Reduce screen time. Kids who regularly stay in front of the computer and television before going to bed can be impacted negatively by blue light. This is true of all of us.
Many of us spend most of our days being exposed to blue light from staring at things like our computer screens and our phone screens. Blue light has a short wavelength and produces a higher amount of energy, which isn't healthy to look at.
Exposure over time is known to damage eyes and interfere with the production of the body’s natural melatonin. Try prying your children away from their screens about two hours before bedtime in order for them to start winding down.3
Tips & Tricks To Help Get Kids To Sleep Earlier
Have children bathe before bed. Nothing soothes quite like a warm bath. The warm water will help relax them and make it easier for them to go to sleep.
If your children aren’t used to bathing at night, make a few extra minutes for it before their bedtime.
If your children are initially resistant to this idea, think about ways that you can make it fun. Try adding bubble bath or bath toys to the routine if they don’t normally use those.
Read with your children before bed. Reading with children at bedtime helps them to unwind. The mind is in one of its most receptive states right before sleep and retains information better.
Choose stories you know your children will enjoy. Better yet, allow your children to pick their own bedtime stories. If you’re not much of a reader, consider investing in an audiobook service.
Alternatively, you can check with your local library and check out audiobooks. Many even provide them in digital format.
Set a bedtime for the whole family. While it's nice to be able to spend time reading, catching up with your significant other, or watching television with a glass of wine, catching up on rest is equally important. If it works, it's worth the extra effort.
Setting a bedtime for all members of the family helps to reinforce what you're hoping to accomplish with your children. It shows your children that you're willing to follow your own rules, and everyone benefits from the extra rest at the same time.
Keep the temperature comfortable. It’s hard to sleep when it’s too hot or too cold. While keeping the house a little cooler is okay and can aid in sleeping, keeping the house too warm will result in many restless nights for both kids and parents.
If you want a more detailed look at what time your children should be going to bed based on age and sleeping needs, there are helpful charts to give you a rough idea.4 Not being able to get your children to bed earlier doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Today’s lifestyles with our various activities and responsibilities can make it hard for us to enforce bedtime rules, but if you can get your children to even go to bed early a couple of nights a week, you’ll still see an improvement, and that's a big deal.
Regardless, remember to take care of yourself because it’s probably been far too long since you spent some time regrouping.
Even if you can’t get an earlier bed routine to work completely in your favor, you still need time to rest mentally and physically for the sake of yourself and your family.
Setting up a nighttime routine might be hard for you and your children at first, but stay firm if you’re dedicated to making this work. Eventually, they’ll see that you’re not budging on this matter and put up less of a fight.
As you maintain this routine, you’ll notice other benefits. You’ll feel more comfortable about enforcing bedtime if you set hard rules. Your children will sleep longer and wake less during the night on an earlier schedule.
These sleeping habits will translate into their later years, and plenty of rest is part of the recipe for success. The benefits of enforcing an earlier bedtime far outweigh the risks of arguments and tantrums, and your sanity will thank you for it.