Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
74
How to Move the Bedtime Earlier
April 11, 2022

Found in age groups

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.

Please read Blog Post 6 which discusses the benefits of extra sleep and highlights the fact that even small amounts of extra sleep make a big difference. Delaying school start times allows middle and high school students more time to sleep in and benefits occur, over time, even when the amount of extra sleep is only 2.4 minutes!

Blog 74How to Move the Bedtime Earlier

New Research

A 2021 study by Professor Lisa Meltzer documented that delaying middle school start times by 40-60 minutes later and delaying high school start times by 70 minutes allowed middle schoolers to have 29 minutes extra sleep and high schoolers 45 minutes extra sleep. These students had significantly less daytime sleepiness! An indication that they were no longer clinically sleep deprived was that “weekend oversleep dropped” dramatically because they were no longer needing to “catch-up” on sleep on weekends.

SLEEP TIP

For pre-school children, even infants, many studies have shown that an early bedtime produces more night sleep (even if the wake-up time is earlier) compared to a late bedtime (even when the wake-up time is later). A late bedtime might be associated with longer naps, but longer naps do not compensate for less night sleep. Further, the early bedtime produces better quality sleep because sleep is occurring more in synchrony with circadian sleep rhythms. Blog Post 7 describes the benefits of early bedtimes and Blog Posts 6869 discuss problems with late bedtimes. So how do you get an early bedtime?

  • 1. Begin soothing and bedtime routines when drowsy signs (Blog Post 9) begin to appear or just start soothing and bedtime routines 10-20 minutes earlier than you customarily do this.

and/or

  • 2. Do not allow a late afternoon or early evening nap to occur. Start this on a weekend when both parents are available to help distract and soothe your child through a possible rough patch caused by skipping the nap.

and/or

  • 3. Control the wake-up time. Nobody wants to wake a sleeping child. But if your pre-school child is falling asleep late at night and waking up way too late in the morning, then start waking your child in the morning around 7:00am to reset his sleep-wake cycle to be in synchrony with his circadian rhythm.

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