We are creatures of habit. Our bodies work best when we have predictable and regular schedules, especially around sleep. Consistent sleep schedules not only contribute to adequate rest but also positively impact a child’s behavior, cognitive function, and overall mood. A consistent sleep schedule starts with answering the question – What is an ideal bedtime for my child? Today, I’ll describe how to choose the best bedtime for your little one.
Children thrive on routine, and having a set bedtime helps regulate their circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that governs sleep-wake cycles. When kids adhere to a regular sleep schedule, their bodies and brains anticipate rest at a specific time. Having a consistent bedtime and wake time may help prevent him from waking up in the middle of the night and can help with bedtime problems.
Furthermore, adequate and consistent sleep is closely linked to improved academic performance. Children who consistently get enough sleep are better able to concentrate, retain information, and exhibit enhanced problem-solving skills. Sleep also plays a crucial role in emotional regulation, reducing the likelihood of irritability and stress in children.
The best starting point is to look at how long your child typically sleeps. We then compare that time with what is typical for a child of this age (see chart below). Do these match up and result in your child feeling rested the next day? If so, you can move forward to the next step. If not, you’ll want to experiment with either increasing or decreasing total nighttime sleep. Next, we determine a good wake time that fits with the family’s schedule. Finally, you’ll move backwards from the desired wake time by the number of hours your child needs to sleep to feel rested.
Now you know how to choose the best bedtime for your child! I hope you found this article and exercise helpful. If your little one is battling bedtime or waking up in the middle of the night, I can help. Please reach out to me here.