Sleep is serious business. If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial, from the point of view of the United States of America Department of the Army. A major point, emphasized by the Army, is that more sleep produces more benefits for Soldiers. Also, more sleep produces more benefits for children. Even small amounts of extra sleep help Blog Post 6. At every age!
Another point made by the Army Blog Post 5 is that “Soldiers [Children] best accomplish sleep extension [more sleep] by going to bed earlier.” The Army is clear about who is in charge: “Planning for sleep is a leader [Parent] competency”.
An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. A slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem. An early or an earlier bedtime, even just a slightly earlier bedtime, might produce:
In short, your child may fall asleep and stay asleep better when the bedtime is early. This is because a bedtime that is too late causes increased brain arousal that interferes with easily falling asleep and staying asleep. This results in a shorter duration of sleep and less consolidated (or more fragmented) sleep.
An important point for babies and young children is that, when the bedtime is too late, although night sleep may be shortened, and naps may be longer, often, the total (24-hour sleep time) is less. Long naps do not fully compensate for short night sleep. Further, when the bedtime is too late, even when total sleep is normal due to very long naps, the child suffers adverse consequences because the short night sleep alone harms the brain. Again, long naps do not fully compensate for short night sleep.
If your child has a sleep problem, moving the bedtime just a little earlier, perhaps 10 to 20 minutes earlier, may produce a small amount of extra sleep that, in turn, solves the sleep problem, because a small amount of extra sleep makes a big impact Blog Post 6.
At about 6 weeks of age, counting from the due date, not the birth date, three predictable changes occur because of brain maturation:
The failure to move your baby’s sleep schedule earlier will cause a cumulative sleep debt to occur that will eventually produce bedtime resistance and night wakings.