The month of May is Better Sleep Month and is sponsored by the Better Sleep Council. Everyone, no matter their age, needs a good night’s rest. Sleep is critical to our overall health and wellbeing. For kids, irregular sleep schedules can wreak havoc on their development and behavior.
Did you know parents spent 140 hours per year on bedtime? Bedtime routines can be exhausting for parents. By the end of the day, patience is wearing thin and sometimes the fight to get your little ones into bed just doesn’t seem worth it.
It might seem easier to let them go to bed when they want, rather than trying to walk them through the nightly routine and herd them into bed. However, there is a real disadvantage to irregular bedtimes.
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that kids who did not have a set bedtime were more unhappy and inconsiderate. There were also higher levels of fighting. More than the parents reporting these behaviors, teachers and daytime care providers also weighed in to confirm that irregular bedtimes cause behavior problems.
Other side effects of not getting enough sleep are linked to lower test scores and poor performance at school. This can lead to low self-esteem. Kids who don’t get enough sleep or who have irregular bedtimes will be sleepy during the day, which can cause them to be unfocused and irritable. Another study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that preschoolers with early bedtimes are less likely to be obese when they are older.
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
The National Sleep Foundation has outlined the recommended number of hours of sleep different age categories need each night.
- Newborns up to three months: 14-17 hours each day
- Infants, 4-11 months:12-15 hours each day
- Toddlers, 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours each day
- Preschoolers, 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours each day
- School age, 6-13 hours: 9-11 hours each day
- Teenagers, 14-17: 8-10 hours each day
Regular Bedtimes Help Parents, Too
A regular bedtime routine means mom and dad will be less stressed every night, too. When your kids know the routine and the times they are expected to do various bedtime tasks, you set expectations that everyone can follow. This nightly routine of habits that prepare us and our kiddos for bedtime is known as “sleep hygiene”.
As important as the bedtime story and the tucking in, be sure the bedtime routine includes a thorough brushing and flossing of those teeth!
Wrangling the children into bed on time, every night will allow parents to have some downtime before they have to get up and start everything over again! Quality time alone or with a spouse is good self-care and very important for mental and physical health.
Smile Surfers: Whole Body Wellness
The board-certified pediatric dentists at Smile Surfers (locations in Richland and Sumner) encourage moms, dads and kids to develop healthy sleep hygiene habits. With summer on the horizon, it’s tough to go to bed when the sun is still shining. But sticking with a regular bedtime routine and practicing good sleep hygiene, everyone can sleep well and feel restored.