Getting adequate sleep is one of the most important aspects of your child’s life. Whether you have an infant or an older child, sleep is key for their growth and development. One of the biggest things we can do for our children is help them get to bed early and get enough sleep. The number of hours of sleep per night is very important for your child- not only for their growth and development but also for their overall health and wellness.
A lot of us have heard the phrase “They’ll sleep when they’re tired”, but when it comes to babies and kids, this is not the case! There is nothing worse than an overtired baby. They can get themselves so amped up and worked up that they then STRUGGLE to fall asleep and stay asleep. Overtiredness is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to baby sleep issues. When a baby is overtired, it puts stress on their bodies, which triggers their cortisol and adrenaline production. Cortisol is what helps regulate sleep to wake cycles and adrenaline is what triggers the flight or fight feeling. Unregulated cortisol levels lead to less REM sleep.
When overtiredness kicks in, cortisol and adrenaline flood their bodies which in turn makes it very difficult for them to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get restful sleep. There are SO many early bedtime benefits to foster healthy sleep habits and avoid them getting overtired.
10 Early Bedtime Benefits for Children
1. Less Nighttime Wakeups
One of the biggest issues we face with baby sleep is multiple overnight wakings. Age-appropriate overnight wakeups for a feed are perfectly normal. But multiple overnight wakeups for no apparent reason are not! We can avoid these nighttime wakeups by utilizing an earlier bedtime. I know it seems the opposite of what you would think, but nighttime wakeups are often caused by an overtired baby. Putting your child to bed earlier can lessen the amount of nighttime wakeups they’re experiencing.
2. A More Predictable Bedtime
Having a set bedtime routine is vital to your child’s sleep. A bedtime routine signals their brain that it’s time to wind down for bed. Having an early bedtime routine teaches your child predictability. And helps prepare their body for a good night of restful sleep. (Need some ideas? Check out our Baby Bedtime Routine and Toddler Bedtime Routine for more guidance!)
3. Less Bedtime Resistance
Starting your bedtime routine early and getting your child down for an early bedtime before they are overtired is key to avoiding bedtime resistance. This is vital for kids as they get a bit older and can protest louder, especially when they’re overtired. There is nothing worse than an overtired toddler screaming because they don’t want to go to bed. They aren’t protesting because they aren’t tired and want to stay up. They just don’t know how else to act when they hit that overtired stage. When you utilize an early bedtime, you avoid this behavior altogether and your child is down and in bed before reaching that point.
4. More Overall Sleep
When you put your baby down to sleep earlier in the evening, this does not mean they are going to be awake early. When a baby goes down for an early bedtime, they are going to sleep better overall because they are not overtired. They will have fewer night wakeups and early risings because their body didn’t reach the point of overtiredness. You can rest assured knowing that when you put them to bed at an appropriate bedtime, they will get the correct amount of hours of sleep they need throughout the night and during the day because they aren’t overtired.
5. Less Early Morning Wakeups
Early to bed does not equal early to rise. (It’s more like late to bed equals early to rise!) An overtired baby will not automatically sleep in because they went to bed later, in most cases they will wake up earlier because of the hormones that were activated in their body by being overly tired. If your child likes to rise early, I highly recommend an early bedtime. They will most likely have had a poor sleep and end up waking earlier than you’d like because they are just not well rested.
6. Fall Asleep Faster
There is no better feeling than hitting that sweet spot of getting your child ready for bed and in their crib, before they’re overtired. Sticking to your bedtime routine and predictable bedtime signals your child’s brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. By the time you’ve finished their bedtime routine, they are nice and sleepy and ready for bed. Falling asleep will be much easier for them because their body knows it’s time for sleep.
7. Quality Time Before Bed
There is nothing better than snuggling with your child before bedtime. That end-of-the-day relaxing time is filled with such love and quality bonding time. Getting to snuggle and read books, or bathe and lotion them up before jammies is so special. Savoring those moments and not feeling rushed or dealing with a grumpy, tired baby is heavenly.
8. Lifelong Healthy Sleep Habits
Teaching your child to go to bed at the same (early) time each night sets them up for a lifetime of successful sleep. When they learn to go to bed at an early predictable time, it teaches them to avoid being a night owl and encourages them to go to bed early to ensure they’re getting an ample amount of sleep each night.
9. Health Benefits
Early and age-appropriate bedtimes have huge impacts on your child’s health. Studies show sleep deprivation or going to bed too late can affect your child both mentally and emotionally. A late bedtime can also have impacts on their immune system and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that late bedtimes had a direct impact on the emotional health of ages 7-11. Another study published by Harvard University showed a correlation between poor sleep in children and an increased risk of adult heart disease.
10. More Time For You!
This is my favorite benefit of an early bedtime- more time for yourself!! When you put your child down for an early bedtime, you have the whole evening to do whatever you want! Maybe that means more time for self-care, or time to try a new recipe and make a fancy dinner. It can also free up more time to spend with your spouse or your old kids who can go to bed a bit later. The options are endless!
Are you exhausted and feeling ready to get deep sleep again? Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that you can wave over your baby to avoid any and all sleep issues and sleep perfectly every night. Luckily for you, I have so many tools in my toolbox that can help you and your baby have a good night’s sleep! Sleep Shore offers one-on-one consulting for sleep problems big or small to help your family consistently get a better quality of sleep. See what this mama had to say about our sleep services:
“Molly was so helpful with sleep advice after having my second baby. I was too tired to read through a course and wanted someone to talk to to ask questions as things happened, and it really worked for us. Molly was quick to respond and was always encouraging. My daughter is now sleeping great and I am grateful to have learned so much from Molly. Definitely recommend hiring her!”