Mama, are early mornings or night wakings killin’ ya?! Let’s take a show of hands. How many of you have heard the saying, “Keep your baby up, and he will sleep later.”? The later we keep them up, the later they’ll sleep in the morning, right?
Have you tried it? Does it work? It may just be giving you the opposite of your desired effect. Is he or she waking earlier? Perhaps before 6:00 am? Or maybe even waking in the night?
My solution: An early bedtime is key in ensuring your child gets the healthy sleep they need.
There are a few keys to healthy sleep for our littles. I like to call it a sleep puzzle, because without fitting all of the pieces together, sleep will not come together. A puzzle is not complete if one piece is missing.
Healthy sleep consists of:
- A safe sleep environment and sleep conducive sleep environment
- An age appropriate sleep schedule
- A bedtime routine
- An early bedtime
- An independent sleeper
Why are early bedtimes are so important.
There are so many benefits of healthy sleep! Wouldn’t you agree that food, love and sleep are amongst the most important things for our children? Sleep is vital because it can help improve their immune system, coordination, mood and their ability to learn new skills more easily. But why an early bedtime?
- Sleep = sleep. The more sleep our children get, the more that they will sleep. Yup, that is true! In fact, even just 30 minutes earlier can make a powerful difference to encourage more sleep.
- Our children have internal biological clocks – their circadian rhythms. There are specific times of the day where our kids get better rest than other times of the day. This is exponentially true with the first hours of the night. The early part of the night is the most restorative sleep that they get in a 24 hour period. A later bedtime is taking away from this precious sleep.
- When our kids are overtired, it makes it harder for them to fall asleep. When our kids become overtired, they gain a second wind. This second wind (cortisol) makes it harder for our children to fall asleep. If this continues to happen, a snowball effect begins to happen and night wakings or early mornings become more prevalent.
How can an early bedtime help?
- It can help to solve early mornings.
- It can help to solve night wakings.
- It can even help to lengthen naps.
- It reduces the chances of an overtired child.
If you are struggling with sleep and you haven’t tried
an early bedtime yet, it is worth a shot.
Early bedtimes for working parents:
I understand with working parents, an early bedtime can be difficult. There are some steps that you can take to help move your evening along so that you can help your child get to bed more quickly. Here are some ideas for those who are struggling with just how you can make the early bedtime happen. Each of these might only save a few minutes, but those minutes add up:
- Plan meals ahead: Crock pot, Instant Pot or easy meals so that there is less to do when you get home from work, or have a separate meal prepared for the little ones at an earlier time.
- Plan for bedtime the night before: lay out their PJs, bath towel and bedtime books for tomorrow, tonight.
- Put into place a great bedtime routine: a good routine should only last about 30 minutes. You can even cut that short if you are running a bit behind on bedtime.
- Make up for lost sleep on the weekends: If you can’t make the early bedtime on the weekdays, ok that’s alright, do the best you can. Then on the weekends, make up for lost sleep by doing an early bedtime each night you are able.
Whatever sleep struggles you may be experiencing, an early bedtime will help your little one to sleep a bit better and catch some more powerful zzzzz’s.