Why Should Children Go to Sleep Early?

Children should go to sleep early because the brain needs enough rest to be able to follow their development process.
Why Should Children Go to Sleep Early?

Last update: 26 March, 2022

Napping or going to sleep early: Two of the most detested moments for the children in your home. No one needs to tell you because you’re sure to be familiar with the tension that exists whenever you have to put your kids to bed.

What child wouldn’t want to play non-stop all day, every day? However, good rest is as important as daytime play and this applies to all ages.

During sleep, we replenish energy and allow the brain to carry out different fundamental processes for development and learning. Hence the importance of your children going to sleep early and resting a proper amount of hours.

Why is it best for children to go to sleep early?

Ensuring a good rest and achieving quality sleep are two fundamental objectives to take care of our health and that of our children. Next, we’ll explain what happens at night while we rest:

  • The brain rests and replenishes energy.
  • Daytime learning is consolidated and memory, reasoning, and attention and concentration skills are strengthened.
  • The immune system is strengthened.
  • Emotional and mood improvements.
  • The necessary hormonal changes are produced to guarantee growth, the regulation of blood pressure, and other mechanisms to promote homeostasis (the body’s internal balance).
A little girl sleeping in a bed that's floating in the clouds.

Keys to helping your child sleep early

As we’ve seen, the benefits of good rest are numerous. Therefore, it’s important to review some household habits in order to improve sleep hygiene.

1. Adjust the hours of sleep to the age of your child

First of all, it’s important to bear in mind that sleep is a maturational aspect that changes throughout life. In this sense, the rest needs vary from one stage to the other and you need to know the characteristics of each one to carry out the appropriate interventions.

For example, around the age of 2, night terrors appear and this can lead to difficulties in getting children to agree to go to bed. In turn, this phenomenon may justify the increase in nocturnal awakenings compared to the previous months.

In addition to the above, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends ensuring a certain number of hours of rest per day, which is determined by the child’s age:

    • 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours
    • 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
    • 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
    • 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours
    • 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours

2. Try to offer a pleasant environment before going to sleep

If bedtime is often troublesome, you can suggest a quiet routine to anticipate the moment.

For example, incorporate a relaxing ritual such as a hot bath, taking an object to bed, reading a short story, or offering some kind of caress. All of this tends to help carry out this transition in a more enjoyable way.

It’s also important to create a pleasant environment that reconciles us with the idea of sleeping: Dim lights, a mild climate, soft sounds, and no screens.

3. Calm the anxiety of the night

Children reject bedtime for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s out of fear, and other times, because of the need to continue with something that they’re very concentrated on. Whatever the reason, the anxiety that’s produced is the enemy of falling asleep.

A good proposal is to think together about the plans you have for the next day, to encourage our children to rest and recharge their batteries in order to make them happen.

Lastly, it’s important to create a safe environment and avoid misleading them. You should avoid leaving the home when they fall asleep because if they wake up, they may feel abandoned, which could increase their nighttime anxiety.

A mother reading a bedtime story to her children.

There are no universal laws, except when it comes to proper care

For most families, bedtime can involve some difficulties, and getting children to sleep early can seem like a utopian dream.

There are thousands of recommendations to achieve this goal, but there’s no foolproof recipe for it. It’s a matter of adapting as much as possible to our reality.

What we must avoid is the tendency to let children cry it out in order to make them fall asleep. Besides the seemingly positive results, these methods cause a lot of anguish in little ones and reinforce the idea that they can’t count on their attachment figures when they need them most.

Finally, it’s essential to bear in mind that family decisions about parenting must be made from a position that respects and cares for children.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • : Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, Hall WA, Kotagal S, Lloyd RM, Malow BA, Maski K, Nichols C, Quan SF, Rosen CL, Troester MM, Wise MS. Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: a consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(6):785-786. Disponible en: https://aasm.org/resources/pdf/pediatricsleepdurationconsensus.pdf

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.