Bedtime Today - Are There Too Many Distractions?

Filed under: Opinions

sleeping boyEach spring, Daylight Savings Time brings a barrage of bedtime complaints. "Why do we have to go to bed? It's still light out!" Well, first of all, it's barely still light out, I tell my kids. And what I think but don't tell them is that in another month, we're going to have to pull the shade at bedtime to hide the sun.

My kids go to bed early. On school nights, we start the (admittedly long) process at 6:30 with the hope that everyone is asleep by 7:30. Eight o'clock at the very latest. I don't do this for myself -- though I did wonder once in those early years if 5:30 was too early to put a baby to bed. No, it's for them. At their ages, six and nearly four, my girls still need a solid 11-12 hours of sleep every night. And when they don't get it, we all pay.

I remember complaining about my own bedtime as a child, but I think it's a lot harder to stick to a bedtime schedule today than it used to be.

Take Noggin, for example, which used to shut down at 6:00 p.m., a clear sign to kids that it was time to wrap things up for the day. Now you can catch Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! at midnight (though I'm not sure why you'd want to). When we were kids, the sun set and playtime was over. But today, kids -- and adults, for that matter -- have access to the programs, games, and websites they love 24/7. Bedtime means missing out on fun time! Or at least that's what I'm hearing from my kids.

You can't depend on kids, then, to let you know when they're tired. Instead, it's up to parents to know how much sleep their kids need. Here are some averages, which include daytime and nighttime sleep:

  • 0-1 year: 13-16 hours
  • 2-4 years: 11-13.5 hours
  • 5-9 years: 10-11 hours
  • 10-14 years: 9-10 hours
  • 15-18 years: 8-9 hours

Studies have shown that with consistent sleep and wake times, the body will eventually start to feel sleepy at the same time every night. This is good news for parents. Build a consistent bedtime into your schedule, and ease kids into it with a regular routine that might include some or all of the following:

  • Lowering the lights and turning off all electronics 30-60 minutes before bed.
  • A light snack that includes both protein and carbs.
  • A warm bath, if it's required.
  • Potty, jammies, and teeth brushing.
  • Cuddle time, especially with your favorite books.
  • Soft music.
Of course, older kids and teens are going to be far more independent, but most sleep experts recommend that you stick to the no electronics rule at bedtime. Besides, evening is a great time of day to hang out as a family.

Do you put your kids to bed early or let them stay up to spend time with the family? And if you have a regular bedtime routine, share a tip with us that might help other parents who are still struggling with bedtime.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.