Are Late Bedtimes Bad?
As children grow, they spend most of their days sleeping. Children under the age of two tend to sleep over 12 hours a day. Though this number will gradually decline as they become toddlers, their sleep health will remain a priority throughout their lives. With that being said, many parents wonder: is there a wrong or right time for kids to go to bed?
Your Child’s Sleep Schedule
As you try to figure out the best sleeping schedule for your child, you may find that going to bed later for them is what works better, but are late bedtimes bad? While many parents assume that children with late bedtimes aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep, this isn’t necessarily true.
Though many sleep specialists don’t encourage that parents allow their children to go to sleep late on a regular basis, the answer to the question “Are late bedtimes bad?” is dependent on a variety of factors.
The main goal for any parent and sleep specialist is to ensure that children are getting a full night’s rest overall, regardless of what time they go to sleep.
Babies with Late Bedtimes
Parents with newborns undoubtedly know the struggle of trying to get into the groove of finding a workable sleep schedule for themselves and their baby. Oftentimes, parents may find themselves putting a baby to bed much later than expected.
Based on the widely held notion that children need to sleep at a certain time, these new parents often worry that babies with late bedtimes aren’t getting the sleep they need. While this can be true if baby isn’t sleeping the recommended amount (that’s around 14 hours for newborns), late bedtimes are perfectly fine if your baby is well-rested.
Late bedtimes are perfectly fine if your baby is well-rested.
It is also important for parents of babies with late bedtimes to make sure that the baby is sticking to a regular routine and wake/nap/bed schedule. This stability is essential for babies as they grow.
Children with Late Bedtimes
As you and your baby get accustomed to their sleep schedule, it is important to note that this routine will eventually change. While a stable schedule is needed for babies with late bedtimes, it is also important for parents to understand when to update this sleeping routine.
Though the same truths of getting enough sleep and having a consistent sleep schedule apply to children with late bedtimes, as your child grows older, they will likely have to adjust to something new. With the start of daycare or school, you’ll need to start waking your child up at a certain time, which will translate into an earlier bedtime.
If You Need to Get Your Child to Sleep Earlier
Parents of children with late bedtimes often fear the day that they have to change their child’s schedule. While it certainly won’t happen in one night, with the right methods, parents can get their children on track to sleeping earlier.
Use the following tips to adjust your child’s sleep schedule:
- Focus on their wake time. Children tend to fall asleep whenever they want. Children with late bedtimes are especially prone to wanting to go to sleep later, as their internal clock is already programmed this way. Set your sights on waking your child up earlier to help combat this desire to fall asleep later. Parents can start resetting their child’s internal clock one or two weeks before school starts to ensure they are well-rested and ready for their new routine.
- Shift by 30 minutes every other day. The sleep clock requires gradual change. Kickstart this adjustment period by setting their wake time 30 minutes earlier every other day or everyday. This is a steady enough pace that will allow them to fall asleep earlier.
- Know how much sleep is needed. Based on their age, your child may need more or less sleep. Do your research and consult with a doctor or sleep specialist to make sure your child is getting the right amount.
- Set the tone for sleep. Spend the two hours prior to bedtime setting the tone for sleep. This means no electronics, exercise, caffeine, and anything else that might keep your child awake. Similarly, keeping their bedroom dark during this time will allow them to fall asleep faster. Also, ensure you’re setting the right room temperature for your baby.
How to Tell if Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Enough
Parents of babies with late bedtimes often wonder how their children’s sleeping habits are affected as they grow. In some cases, children may not be getting enough sleep, regardless of when their bedtime is.
Worried your child isn’t sleeping enough? Watch out for these signs:
- Constantly rubbing the eyes or yawning. As babies spend most of the day sleeping, these are telltale signs that they need to get more sleep ASAP.
- Consistent irritability and crankiness. We all get a little irritable if we haven’t been sleeping well. The same is true for your child, however old they may be.
- Falling asleep on short car rides. If you notice that your child always knocks out on a short ride in the car or stroller, it’s likely that they need to get more sleep.
- Acting sleepy after waking. Even if your child is awake, this doesn’t mean that they had a restful sleep. In some cases, they didn’t get enough sleep, in others, the quality of sleep wasn’t adequate.
If you find that your baby is sleeping well, a late bedtime is not a bad thing. As long as you are making sure that your child is well-rested and sticking to a regular schedule, you and your baby are doing just fine.