One question my wife and I have always struggled with is what time we should get our little ones to bed.
Go to bed too early, and they goof off, get hyper and never get to sleep. Go to bed too late, and we’ve got grumpy tired kids who can barely make it through the day.
What The Experts Say About Bedtime
Luckily, Wilson Elementary School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has provided a handy chart to help parents out. The chart is based on age and usual wake-up time.
For example, if you have a 5-year-old who has to wake up at 6:15 a.m., she should go to bed at 7:00 p.m. A 10-year-old who gets up at 6:15 could stay up until 8:15 p.m. This lines up with American Academy of Pediatrics’ sleep recommendations for kids, which say that kids ages 3 to 5 should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep whereas kids ages 6 to 12 are OK with 9 to 12 hours of shuteye.
Why Bedtime Matters
This chart has been shared on Facebook over 400,000 times — and for good reason. We know getting enough rest is vital to our kids’ health. Recent research has found that consistent bedtimes and mealtimes reduce the risk of childhood obesity. Furthermore, one study found that putting kids to bed early can even make for a happier family overall.
American Academy Of Pediatrics’ Recommendations
Wilson Elementary’s chart doesn’t show the recommended bedtime before age 5, so here’s the full rundown of AAP-approved sleep recommendations:
- Infants from 4 to 12 months should get 12 to 16 hours of sleep (including naps)
- Children 1 to 2 years old should get 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Kids 3 to 5 should get 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- Children 6 to 12 years old should sleep 9 to 12 hours a night
- Teenagers should get from 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night
Of course, some kids are bound to be outliers (as one Facebook commenter said about the sleep chart: “Great in theory but not for my little one”).
Still, it can help to have some suggested guidelines to follow.
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What Can We Do To Get Our Kids To Bed Earlier?
First of all, researchers say we need to limit before-bed screen time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the blue light emitted from screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. Yikes!
To be safe, they recommend a digital curfew that would limit the use of TV, tablets, phones and computers one to two hours before bedtime.
The National Sleep Foundation also recommends a consistent bedtime routine. In our house, this includes a soothing bath and a good book. But whatever you choose to incorporate into your bedtime routine, know that a regular routine can set you and your child up for success. And this can start as early as infancy, so the sooner you can establish a routine, the better!
What works for your family? What time do your kids go to bed?