Bedtimes Crucial to Kids' Well-Being

[deleted account] ( 18 moms have responded )

Set bedtimes do more for children than ensure a good night's rest -- they make kids healthier, a new study suggests.

"Bedtimes are good for sleep, and sleep is good for healthy children," researcher Lauren Hale told ParentDish.

Hale recently studied the bedtime routines of 3-year-olds and concluded that health educators should do more to encourage parents to establish bedtimes and bedtime routines.

The study published online in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that children from disadvantaged households are less likely to have consistent bedtimes than their peers in advantaged households.

"What we find is that disadvantaged populations or lower-education populations have worse health outcomes and it turns out they have worse sleep problems," Hale told

Bedtime routines -- reading, bathing and singing -- are important because they help children fall asleep faster and sleep better, said Hale, an assistant professor of preventative health at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York.

And a better night's sleep means better health and grades, said Dr. William Cotton, medical director of the primary care network at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He encourages parents to establish and enforce bedtimes.

"You need to give children all the advantages you can," he said. "It's all part of good health."



Jess - posted on 03/17/2010




My 7 month old depends on her bedtime routine. She demands it be followed to the letter right and at exactly 6pm every night she makes sure we all know its time to start. She has dinner at 6, that takes about 15-20 minutes. Then she hops straight in the bath and has a splash for as long as she likes or until the water starts getting cold and is then dressed and in bed by 7pm. She then sleeps through until at least 7am. It works for us, our day has no routine at all, Ava will not follow a routine during the day no matter how hard we try, but her bedtime routine was a winner !


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Sarah - posted on 03/18/2010




I watched a Supernanny type programme the other day (Jo Frost is fab! lol) and they did an experiment with some school kids, i think they were about 7 or 8.
One week they could stay up as late as they wanted (though not past 11pm) after the week was up they did a test and they scored really badly. The next week they had to be in bed by 7:30pm, they re-took the test and all scored WAY higher.

I think a good bedtime routine and a decent nights sleep is REALLY important.
Especially at school age. Both my girls (they are 5yrs and nearly 2) are in bed by 7, lights out at half past.
I let them stay up a little later on the weekend.
Sleep is SO important!! :)

LaCi - posted on 03/18/2010




I think the correlation of that may be somewhat skewed. Lower education populations are typically lower income populations and a variety of factors play into why our lower income population would have greater health issues and poorer grades. Bedtime would be the least of my concern with how to help the children in this particular population.

I wish I mine still had a bed time. I've been struggling lately. My son used to be in bed at 8 on the dot, and he would sleep until 7 or 8 the next morning. What good times those were! Now he usually falls asleep by 9:30-10 and wakes up at 7. He seems to be falling into all the same habits I fell into as a child. I never had a bedtime. My natural instinct is to be a night owl, since having him my normal sleep cycle has been totally disrupted. I mean... sleeping at night, wtf? Night is my happy time. My grades were/are good, my health is and was good. Different people have different natural schedules. I'm not supposed to be sleeping at night, there are a few of us like that. We're supposed to be keeping an eye out while the rest of our tribe sleeps. Survival.

Part of me thinks he needs to go to bed earlier, the other part thinks if he were actually tired he would go to sleep instead of playing ball and this is just his natural rhythm. He still gets roughly 11 hours of sleep per day. He's not moody, he's not tired, so I don't see anything wrong with it. It's just a nuisance to me, as I used to get a lot done when he would go to bed. So I will probably never enforce a strict bedtime.

Carrie - posted on 03/17/2010




I agree. My 1 year old (will be 2 in May) has a bedtime of 8:00PM. We have a routine set and we are consistant (supper, bathtime, storytime, then bedtime). I've noticed that if our routine is altered in any way, he does not sleep through the night and wakes up whinny. I also have an 8 yr old and a 12 yr old that have a bedtime of 8:30pm. After bathtime for my youngest, my 8 yr old takes a bath/shower and then my 12 yr old. If they are up later than that, it takes an act of congress to get them out of bed in the morning. I'm very PROUD to say both my school age boys are on the A B honor roll. Children are such a joy!

[deleted account]

I think it's good to have a set bedtime routine. My son who's 15 weeks old has his bath every other night & on the other nights I do his baby massage, I feed him, read a story and always have him in bed by 7pm =] Unlike our neighbours whose 3 year old goes to sleep when they do...usually at midnight...and they wonder why she's a handful all the time...sleep deprivation perhaps.

Johnny - posted on 03/16/2010




We let our lives set the routine. It sort of naturally came about that we read to our daughter a bit, then she reads on her own for a while as we get things cleaned up. She tells us, "all done" and we get her changed, she nurses, hubby brushes her teeth and she crawls into bed. She is generally in bed every night right around 8pm because that is when she gets tired and is ready to sleep. Sometimes something happens and it is a bit later, not very often. And if she is still hyper at 8 pm, we let her wind down for a while before bed. That way it's not a battle and she goes to sleep calmly. I've found that following her tired cues for naps and bedtimes leads to a lot of success with her actually going to sleep. She crawls into bed on her own and curls up, closes her eyes. She's tired and she knows that means sleep time. I think if you force an artificial bedtime, then kids get confused about being sleepy vs. being awake and what bedtime means. I think that can lead to difficulty later. A good night's sleep is essential for a growing child (and tired parents), but I fear that studies like this encourage arbitrary and overly strict practices by parents. I believe it is better to find a natural rhythm that leads to a quiet night.

Liane - posted on 03/16/2010




Bedtimes and routines are essential to your children. Our routine has always included bathing, quiet time and reading and finally, lights out. We've done this with all of our kids since they were infants. My 9 and 7 year olds were in bed by 7 or 7:30 until they were 5. Now they go to sleep between 8 and 8:30. They don't have to get up until 7 so they get roughly 10-11 hours of sleep a night.

The truth of the matter is most children perform poorly in school when allowed to make their own bedtime or follow no predictable routine. Of course, the debate that the younger than school age kids don't need such a strict schedule, IMO, is just not true. Start them young on a predictable schedule and you shouldn't have any problems when it becomes "required" upon starting school. You may also find your infant/toddler/preschooler has a lot less bad behaviors when they are well rested.

I have spent lots of time volunteering in the public school system where I live and you can definitely tell a difference between the students who get a good nights sleep and the ones that don't. The really sad fact is they don't even know that they are tired (because they've never been allowed to be truly rested) they just know they can't focus or concentrate. I'm curious if any studies have been done regarding the amount of sleep a child gets and whether or not they are labeled as ADD/ADHD.

I realize in this day and age it is somewhat rare to have a SAH parent and thus makes a bedtime routine a little more difficult to commit to. But, it is worth it to make sacrifices that will allow your child a predictable routine with plenty of time to get a good nights sleep. It doesn't have to be so rigid that you can't live a normal life but children do thrive on routine, parameters and predictability. Remember that just like adults will do, children will learn to deal with lack of sleep but their performance and abilities will normally suffer as a result of being sleep deprived.

Ashley - posted on 03/16/2010




We have a slight bedtime routine. I like to have my son have quiet time with us before bed then we brush teeth, read books and cuddle. He is usually in bed before 9 some nights earlier. It depends more on his father's work schedule. I try to keep it consitent as I can but I also think it is importnant to be flexible so when things happen my son is still ok going to bed.

Rosie - posted on 03/15/2010




i follow a strict bedtime, but don't really have any routine ahead of time. it has always worked for my children and we never have any problems. my 10 year old goes to bed at 9, and my other 2 go to bed at 8. when they get older, on the weekends i'll let them stay up later, maybe till 10, like my oldest does, but i don't see the necessity for my 2 younger ones yet.

Amy - posted on 03/15/2010




it isn't always easy these days for set schedules. with two parents working, many are at sitters past bedtimes. we are lucky. i'm a stay at home mom. my kids both go to bed between 7/8pm and wake up around 7am. nap for my son around noon and my daughter either naps or has "Quiet time" the same time so i can get things done. Beyond our normal days, there will always be holidays, special occasions, fireworks, etc that are a treat for them to stay up later. we just had a time change here, so we kind of play it by ear until they adjust a bit. i won't make my son try to lay down at 7 since it was previously 6 or anything to stick with a schedule though. i do know people who do that. i think it's silly. a clock means nothing to a toddler.

Krista - posted on 03/15/2010




We have a fairly well-established routine. Bath around 6:30pm, then jammies and sleep sack, then bottle, then bed. He's usually in his crib by 7, and asleep about 5 minutes later. When I go back to work, we'll have to adjust the schedule a bit, because he and I won't be getting home until almost 6pm, so that's cutting it close. So I'll probably push things by a half hour, giving the bath at 7, and have him in bed by 7:30.

I do think that it's important to have a relatively consistent and early bedtime for kids. I know some families who let their little ones stay up until 10-11 at night, and the children are so overtired that their sleep is of very poor quality, resulting in some serious crankiness the next day.

Of course, we do stay somewhat flexible. If we have company over, or if we're travelling, then sometimes the schedule gets tossed out the window. We do always try to keep the routine, though, so that he has those cues that it is time for beddy-byes.

Minnie - posted on 03/15/2010




My kids go to bed when they're tired. This tends to be somewhere around the same time every night, but not always.

The fact of the matter is that our species is not designed to sleep for long periods of time straight through. Pre-industrial revolution people would sleep for a few hours, then get up and do things in the night. Then sleep some more. The day was broken up (and still is in many cultures) by a mid-afternoon nap.

So yes, sleep is healthy- but whether or not a person can fall asleep quickly depends on a lot more than a fabricated routine.

Come to think of it now, I guess we do have a 'routine', meaning the things we do prior to actually falling asleep, but we don't expect our children in bed asleep at a particular time each night.

[deleted account]

Heather, you make a very good point. Many families can't have a set schedule and routine because of the nature of their jobs. My husband is just now on a set work schedule. When he was a paramedic he would switch between working nights and days and sometimes be on the schedule for 72 hours straight. I was in school and working part time then. If we'd had a child at that time, I can imagine that she wouldn't have a routine. We just all have to adjust and do the best we can for our families.

Heather - posted on 03/14/2010




"The study published online in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that children from disadvantaged households are less likely to have consistent bedtimes than their peers in advantaged households".

I think that this is due to the fact that if you are considered an "disadvantaged" household or "lower educated" you have to work alot harder or maybe the are refering to single moms, or young parents??? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and I know plenty single moms who work 2 jobs and work hard to provide for their kids, and I know many families with 2 parents who both work (this would be my family) and still scrape by. My son has no bedtime routine because our work schedules are different and on the nights that I work, he dosent get to bed until 11:30 and has to be up at 6:30am to pick me up from work. Sure in an Ideal world everyone works during the day and can come home and cook dinner and put the kids to bed, but unfotunately, us "disadvantaged" populations who actually work hard and live a different schedule are made to feel bad...once again. I would love to be in a place where my hubby can bring home the bacon, and I could be a stay at home mom...but for us, and millions of parents out there, thats just not an option.

[deleted account]

I think a set bedtime and schedule is a good thing. But flexibility is important as well.

Most days my daughter is in bed between 7 and 8. Our routine consists of bath, vitamins, brush teeth, comb hair, prayers as a family, hugs and kisses, bed. The routine takes all of 20-30 minutes and there is no fuss. I'd rather keep books and songs out of the bedtime routine and just read and sing during the day.

But there are times when my daughter is not in bed by that time. She's a very good tempered girl so it's fine. Like Friday night, we took her to my friend's wedding and we didn't get home until 11. She fell asleep in the car and wore her dress to bed. She's no worse for the wear.

Erin - posted on 03/14/2010




I somewhat follow a bed time schedule. My son is in bed no later than 9pm. Whether that be going to bed at 8 or 830. Most of the time he is alseep by 9. But there are some rare occasions where I have to go out somewhere and he goes with me late at night. So maybe I am one of those mother's at Walmart late lol, sometimes it's beyond my control.

I think as my son gets older and into the school age (he's 2 1/2 now) I will be more strict with his bed time.

[deleted account]

Strict? No. Being outnumbered 3 to 1... pre bedtime in this house is crazy. We do have a pretty good routine though (that unfortunately includes a lot of insanity) and my son and I are in bed 7:30-8ish. Girls go to bed the same'ish' time on school nights. Most non school nights I don't care when they go to bed, but they're almost always done by 9ish anyway.

[deleted account]

I couldn't agree more. I can't tell you how much it bothers me when I go to Wal-Mart late at night (to avoid the crowds) and see children with their parents.

Children are creatures of habit, and when they have bedtimes and bedtime routines and know what is expected of them, there are less fights and tantrums (less, not none--anyone can have a bad day). As a nanny, I can tell you that the kids who had set bedtime routines--ie, dinner, bath, story, then bed--were a lot better behaved and easier to put to bed than the kids who just had bedtimes--ie, go to bed at nine o'clock. From my experience, the routines help the kids wind down from the day, and they are usually tired by the time they are to go to sleep instead of all wound up. It is also easier to wake them up in the morning for school...

Carleigh's bed time is 7.30 7 days a week with no exceptions...we arrange our daily schedule so she is always at home by that time fed and bathed then ready for bed...was it an adjustment YES but it has been well worth it, I have a friend whose son doesn't go to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning and sleeps until noon everyday I would go absolutely batty. not to mention the hell she is going to go through getting him adjusted to his school schedule next fall...children thrive on a schedule so we have a set schedule for everything in our house same breakfast, lunch and dinner times everyday same nap and bed times everyday no matter what. I makes for some tricky scheduling and time and effort on our part but I'm sure for Carleigh's sake we are doing the best thing for her.

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