Most parents know when their child is sleepy. No matter what age they are, children behave better when they are well-rested.
A regular, enforced bedtime helps your child get a consistent amount of sleep each night. They also will benefit from passing through all the stages of sleep. REM sleep is particularly important, helping your child improve memory skills. The deep sleep phase helps your child wake up refreshed and able to function at their best throughout the day.
No matter what the age, children have been shown to behave better when well-rested. Regular sleep helps regulate your child’s body functions. Conversely, an irregular sleep schedule disrupts the body’s natural sleep circadian rhythm and leads to sleep deprivation. This, in turn, affects a child’s behaviour.
The real key is consistency. A child’s bedtime should be at the same time each night. When setting your child’s bedtime routine, there are a few factors which need to be considered:
1. The age of your child.
Infants need between thirteen and twenty hours a day, including naptimes. A lack of sleep results in your baby being fussier, because it disorganizes them.
Toddlers need ten to thirteen hours of sleep, with or without naps. Remember that a late-day nap may make your child resist adhering to their set bedtime. Consider a regular nap schedule for your toddler.
Sufficient sleep is critical for young children because their brains are still developing. A preschooler needs ten to twelve hours per night, as do children five to seven. Children eight to twelve should average about nine hours.
Although your teenager will never admit it, they need 8½ to 9½ hours of sleep. Ask any teacher of this age group and they will tell you students who do not get enough sleep each night have behaviour problems and even sleep during classes!
2. Your child’s sleep needs and personality
Each child is different. Some children cannot sleep during daylight hours. You may need to compensate with a scheduled rest time for your toddler or preschooler.
Each child responds differently to a lack of sufficient sleep. Watching your child at home and talking to their teacher will help you determine if they are getting enough sleep each night.
3. Your family’s schedule
What time does the day start for your family? When do the children need to catch the bus or leave for school? The answers to these questions will help you set a regular bedtime for your child. Simply work backward from the time your child needs to get up to their set bedtime, allowing sufficient rest for their age.
Also, it is best to maintain a regular schedule during school breaks. The times may be different, but a regular, set schedule will help the entire family maintain a rested, well-organized environment.
Parents and teachers report hyperactivity, conduct problems, and problems with peers for children who do not get adequate rest. Additionally, a regular sleep schedule affects obedience to parents, healthy eating, and school success. A sense of satisfaction and a feeling of security result with a regular bedtime.
As children get older, bedtime can be more difficult to enforce. However, it’s worth the fight. Try convincing your teenager that they need to go to bed by ten p.m. Persuasive methods are certainly called for!
It is never too early or too late to establish a regular bedtime. You will observe better behaviour when a regular bedtime is observed and you will have a happier, healthier child.