If you have children, you know that kids and bedtime typically don’t mix. Kids are usually so amped up with energy in the evening that it’s hard to get them to fall asleep.
But the benefits of sleep for young ones can’t be overstated. ‘Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school,’ The National Sleep Foundation notes.
If you’ve got school-age children, there’s a debate brewing about the right time to put them to bed…
How early is too early?
Studies show the optimal time to put school-age kids to bed is between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to WomansDay.com.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages 3 to 5 get 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night, while children ages 6 to 13 years need 9 to 11 hours of sleep nightly.
So if you have a 6-year-old child, that means he or she should be in bed by 7 p.m. — at least in theory. A 7 p.m. bedtime allows for an age-appropriate 11 hours of sleep assuming the morning alarm rings at 6 a.m.
Does that bedtime sound too early? A lot of parents would agree. Many were up in arms when a school district posted this chart on Facebook with suggested bedtimes for kids.
Some called the recommendations ‘absurd’ and ‘not practical.’ Still others called the chart ‘fabulous’ and noted that it will please the pediatrician crowd because it lets kids get the recommended amount of sleep.
If you have trouble getting your kids to bed, consider the following:
Beware of the blue light, and get some sunlight instead!
The blue light from the many screens in our lives could be a possible cause of interrupted sleep patterns. Aim to minimize screen time after school, and be sure your child gets plenty of physical activity. With the nicer weather, now is a great time to play outdoors. That should wear them out and make better sleep more likely!
Find the optimal room temperature
According to Dr. Christopher Winter, medical director at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine, the temperature in a bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Winter says any temperature above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees can disrupt sleep.
Read more: 9 air conditioning alternatives
Let your child sleep with the family pet
According to CBS News, a recent survey of 150 sleep center patients “found that more than half of pet owners allowed their pets to sleep in the bedroom.” While one in five of those studied said their pet was disruptive, 41% said their pets may even be beneficial to their sleep.
‘If having a pet nearby helps them feel relaxed and gives them a sense of security, which permits them to fall asleep with less difficulty, then I think that is something that does deserve attention,’ Dr. Lois Krahn, who led the study, told CBS News. The study did not take into consideration factors such as a pet’s sleeping habits, cleanliness, breed or size.