The science is in: early bedtimes are better!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: both our personal experience and loads of research show that early bedtimes are better for babies and kids. So we’re definitely fans of this article from Melinda Wenner Moyer at Slate, who is a strict adherent to early bedtimes. A summary of Moyer’s arguments:
- Her kids seem to be getting more sleep and seem to be happier as a result.
- Studies show that kids who go to bed early sleep more, and their sleep may be more restorative.
- Little kids need a LOT of sleep – newborn babies need 14-17 hours, toddlers need 11-14 hours, and schoolkids need 9-11 hours.
- While I take issue with the headline claiming that early sleep makes kids “smarter,” it does help them a lot in school.
- The ideal bedtime varies by child, so experimenting to see which bedtimes result in which behaviors is a good idea.
With all of that said: if you decide that an earlier bedtime is needed, how do you actually get your kids to get to bed early, stay there, and fall asleep reliably? This perennial parenting question has a LOT of answers, and you’ll find almost all of them in this great overview at Lifehacker, a website I strongly endorse on almost any topic, since their advice is almost always thorough, practical, and well-researched.
The most important takehome message from this article is that for kids at any age where you’re putting them to bed (that is, prior to their teens), a bedtime routine is a must: bath, brushing teeth, books, and bed. The routine will help to cue sleepiness, and being consistent will help to curb their tendency to beg to stay up just-a-little-later-please (although of course, they’ll try anyway).
As for the rest: their advice is divided up by age, and it’s super helpful, so go read it! When kids get more rest, everyone is happier and healthier, and whether that makes your kid smarter or not, it still means that YOU’RE a smart parent.