Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekly Column: In Defense Of Early Bedtimes

If there’s one piece of advice I’d love to give all new parents, it’s this: Make early bedtimes a priority!

As soon as our babies were sleeping on a fairly consistent nightly routine, we adopted early bedtimes for them each night, excepting special occasions. There were nights when my girls were in bed, asleep, by 6 or 6:30 in the evening, and it still amazes me that they LOVED it.

I had assumed that by keeping a baby up longer at night, she’d sleep later the next morning. But it didn’t take many bad nights and early mornings to learn otherwise. If we kept them up later than usual, they woke even earlier the next morning, cranky and tired. But when their need for sleep was respected, they’d sleep 12 or 13 hours, and they were more responsive and easier to handle the following day. I learned toddlers and babies need that much sleep to grow as they were designed to, and I’ve been sold on early bedtimes ever since.

Now, their regular bedtime is 7:30. They still sleep from 11 to 13 hours, and they still wake up too early if they go to bed too late. Knowing what will happen if they stay up later than usual – more crankiness, tantrums, meltdowns, and bad attitudes – it’s been fairly easy to stick to my goal of keeping bedtimes early.

But better behavior isn’t the only benefit of early bedtimes. My own well-being is affected, too. Our evenings allow time for the relaxation that is so beneficial to hard-working parents. My husband and I can enjoy each other’s company, knowing our kids are resting and re-charging for another day.

And it’s a lot easier to keep up with a re-charged toddler when we’ve had plenty of time to re-charge, as well.

Check it out!  My column is on the newspaper's website this week! 


  1. I'll try it but I think my teens might fuss. :) Have a great Sunday! Tam

  2. That is the same advice I have been giving for the lat 20 years. The progeny were in bed by 7p every night. It was either that or kill them because I was just done for the day. They were fine with it and later on, if they wanted to read for a bit on their own that was fine as long as they then turned off the light when I gave the signal.

  3. I had the opposite experience with Levi. I was persistent about trying to get him into an early bedtime routine. Ha! My mother finally told me just to quit and go with what he naturally did. Early bedtimes just resulted in him actually falling sleep even later than he would normally (oh, so frustrating!), and then he would wake up earlier on top of that. Once I just started going with the flow, sleeping actually became so much better for both of us. But, then Levi has been strange about sleep since birth.

  4. We also are solid believers in early bedtimes and now that Tyler is 8, he still needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night (according to our dr.) so bedtimes remain fairly early. The benefits are so great, for everyone.

    We were told when we had Tyler that bedtime was the most important thing to keep consistent (along with meals) and we have done it, it's been hard at times, especially when we want to go do something, but so worth it!!

    Good Advice, Sarah!

  5. I am right there with you! Our Tot goes to bed every night at 7 and has since he was just a few months old. He sleeps for 11 hours straight and still (most times) takes a pretty solid 2-3 hour nap during the day. Early bedtimes are the BEST!

  6. I'm in complete agreement with you - our little guy is now 3 and goes to bed at 7.30pm every night. He sleeps 12 hours and has done since being 8wks old. (I think there's a fair bit of luck involved in this too though!)

  7. I totally agree with you, too! Both of our boys do best when they are asleep by 7. In the summer, though, they both seem to want to rise and sleep by the sun, which makes it harder to get them down at a decent time. BUT we still strive for 7 because they undoubtedly wake with the sun and that means even less sleep and more crab!

  8. Oh girl, you're singing my song! I couldn't agree more!

    It was cool to see your article in the paper! Congratulations!

  9. I whole-heartedly agree! We should probably start some sort of club...Early to can be the president since you're a published author! Congrats on your column! They picked you 'cuz you're! :)

  10. I abso-posi-lutely agree with you! Lily has been a to-bed-at-7 girl ever since the beginning and I wouldn't have it any other way -- for all the reasons you listed!

  11. Congratulations - don't forget to save screencaps!!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?