The majority of children in the U.S. go to bed too late. Not only is this an issue for the child’s health and development, but it also makes getting the child to fall asleep very difficult.
The latest that young children and school aged children should be going to bed is 8 pm. Most children need to go to bed earlier, around 7 or even 6 if they wake early or take short naps.
If you try and put a child to sleep within their “window of sleep” (i.e. their circadian rhythm has started the sleep phase) it is easy to get them to sleep. Most parents are aware of the dreaded “second wind.” This happens when you miss the child’s window to get them to sleep easily. If the child was ready to sleep but they didn’t get to bed at that time then their bodies send a surge of hormones to keep them awake. You can avoid this second wind by getting the child to bed when their body is ready to sleep, before their second wind hits.
How do you know how much sleep your child needs?
Write down what time your child falls asleep on a Friday night. What time did they wake up in naturally the morning on Saturday? If they fell asleep at 7:30 and woke at 6:30 naturally then they need 11 hours. Keep track for two or three weekends so you know the timing wasn’t a fluke. Once you know how many hours they need and you know what time they usually wake then you will know what time they should be asleep at night to get the sleep their body requires. Sleep is important and it is our job as parents to protect our children’s sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages three to five get 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night.
Some kids might need a little more, but it is very rare that kids need less than this amount. The time children should go to bed depends on the quality of naps and the activity level of the day. Bedtime is somewhat flexible, (that doesn’t mean late though). If you are wondering about bed times for a baby see my post on How Much Sleep Does My Infant Need?
Watch your child’s behavior. If they are melting down you missed the window and next time they should be in bed earlier. Don’t keep a tired child awake!
Recommendations for children age 1.5-3
There are several different scenarios for kids who are taking 1 nap listed below where you can see what a good bedtime would be (These times are approximate just to give you an idea, don’t be married to a specific bedtime).
Quick note on very early risers; if your child is waking before 5:30 a.m. then usually that is an indication that the child is overtired and the rest of the child’s sleep should be addressed. A wake-up time between 5:30-7:00 a.m. is considered normal.
Recommendations for children age 4 or 5
Here are a couple scenarios for kids who are 4 or 5 who are not napping anymore.
Hopefully that helps give you an idea about what time your child should be asleep at night. Again, bedtime will vary a little bit each night but you should be trying to get your kids to sleep within this time frame the majority of the time. Happy Sleeping!
©July, 2018 by Erin Myrmel at Sleep Baby, LLC
Sleep Baby, LLC
This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about pediatric sleep and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not intended nor is implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or the health and welfare of your baby, toddler or child. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment. For my full Disclaimer, please go to https://www.sleepbaby.co/disclaimer-copyright