Blog Posts 1–5, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!
Q: If I keep my child up late at night, will he get more tired and then fall asleep easier at night?
WHEN THE BEDTIME IS TOO LATE
What happens when children are allowed to fall asleep too late at night? They wake up short of sleep in the morning in a state of higher neurological arousal that in turn makes it harder or even impossible for them to nap well. The consequences of not napping well are that by the end of the day a child’s sleep tank is empty (Blog Posts 171 and 172) and she is in an even higher state of arousal, which makes it even more difficult for her to easily fall asleep and stay asleep at night. A vicious cycle is generated.
In contrast, an early bedtime permits long naps to occur because your child wakes in a lower state of neurological arousal. It is easier for parents to catch the wave of drowsy signs, and there is no witching hour. It becomes a virtuous cycle. Thus, begins the long arc of sleep begets sleep, from infancy to adolescence and beyond.
MOVE THE BEDTIME EARLIER
This may seem counterintuitive if your child is having trouble sleeping, but dramatic improvements occur even when children get very small amounts of extra sleep. Hyperarousal in your child causes difficulties in falling asleep and staying asleep. Early bedtimes dampen or eliminate hyperarousal. Early bedtimes will not necessarily cause your baby to wake up earlier in the morning. More sleep at the front end at night makes it easier for babies to sleep in later in the morning and/or wake up better rested.
Because your child starts the day better rested, she is more able to take longer naps.
Because she is more able to take longer naps, she is at a lower level of neurological arousal in the evening.
Because she is at a lower level of neurological arousal in the evening, it is easier for her to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
Sleep begets sleep.
For more information on the bedtime: