Without a doubt, sleep deprivation was what I prepared for the least. I adopted my children through the foster care system; they were toddlers so, I thought sleep would be easier to find at my house versus my friends who had newborns at home. I was dead wrong. After months of walking around like the undead, bouts of depression from lack of sleep, and extremely irritability from broken sleep—I discovered a secret weapon: Early bedtimes with military-like precision.
Understanding bedtimes saved my mental health, and there are studies to prove why it’s essential to a healthy household.
Early Bedtimes Help Everyone
Bedtime studies helped point me in the right direction. This study confirms that my strict routine is worth the months of enacting it: when kids shut those cute little eyes early, they are healthier for it, and mom is happier.
The Growing Up in Australia study started tracking thousands of families in 2004. Researched analyzed the data and found that children in bed before 8:30 p.m. had “better health-related quality of life.” The same study also found that their mothers also had a better quality of life and mental health.
“So, mums and dads, getting kids to bed early is not just great for them. It’s good for you, too,” the leader of the study, Jon Quach, told the Today Show.
My own experience says he’s right. My kids are now in bed every night by 7:30 pm, allowing me to shower, work, and even relax a bit before my early bedtime. Carrying the mental and physical load of a family is exhausting; my kid’s first bedtime is the only way I’ve been able to fit any “self-care” onto my to-do list. But before you go feeling guilty on my behalf– that I’m missing out on precious time with my little ones– remember, it’s really good for my kiddos too.
If you need a more definite benefit, other than mom’s mental health, understand that the studies show, kids who go to bed early actually sleep longer. And that’s great news because, the National Sleep Foundation, says they need a lot of it. Check out this chart that shows the recommended number of hours of sleep children should get each night.
I’ve plotted out my kid’s bedtime according to wake up time. Here’s a handy chart for that too.
Tips on Getting Early Shut-Eye
Need help getting those, little ones to bed at an earlier time? Luckily there are a few recommendations how to set a more previous bedtime routine.
- Limit screen time before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the blue light from screens will delay melatonin, increase alertness and reset the body’s internal processes for a later bedtime. Try setting a digital curfew for the computers, tablets, and phones.
- Make sure your kids get lots of exercise during the day
- Avoid caffeine
- Keep their room cool and dark
- Set a strong routine
In our household, we implemented all of these suggestions. It was a month’s long project of tinkering and reworking to get everything just right, but now our night goes like this: dinner, 30 minutes of TV, bath, books, and bed. The entire routine takes about an hour and a half, which means we eat dinner at 6 p.m. and it’s light out by 7:30 p.m. But the actual time doesn’t seem to be as important to us as the routine itself. They know that bedtime is coming and they start to wind down.
It’s been a lifesaver for us, but whatever routine you choose, just know it will take time. BUT those early bedtimes are worth it!
Please Share With Your Friends and Family!
Note: Peace Quarters is an open platform for contributors to share their thoughts, experiences, and wisdom. If you’d wish to contribute sign up to our expert’s program here!
About The Author: Born and raised in South Louisiana, Leah Richard is a graduate of Louisiana State University. She worked as a journalist for 13 years, and her work has been featured on networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN, and CNN International. Now, Leah enjoys her writing career almost as much as a newsroom career because it keeps her growing professionally and learning as a human being. Plus, there’s a lot less drinking at the end of the day.