My kids (ages 4 and 6) are in bed by 6.30pm and are fast asleep by 7pm. When I mention this to people, I’m usually amused by the range of reactions I get.
Some express envy and admiration (“wow, how do you do that, I’m so jealous”) while others can’t understand the logic (“that’s way too early! Why would you do that?”). My reasons involve both my kids’ and my own wellbeing.
Long before I learned about the research that informs this article (we’ll get into that in a bit), I knew that early bedtime was good for my children and instinctively knew it was good for me too.
With the children, it’s a no-brainer. Plenty of studies prove that getting adequate sleep is crucial for kids’ mental and physiological development.
According to SingHealth: “In toddlers, sleep requirement decreases to between 12 to 13 hours. Pre-schoolers need to sleep between 11 to 12 hours, and school-going children between 10 to 11 hours. Adolescents require about 9 hours of sleep.”
Now, there’s yet another compelling reason why early bedtime for kids is good — new research shows that putting kids to bed early is really good for the mental health of mums!
Here’s a guide that shows around what time kids of different ages should be going to sleep. Of course, we do understand that these times may not be ideal given that some older kids have extra curricular activities until late. Still, the health benefits of adequate sleep for kids of all ages are unarguable. (Image from Wilson Elementary School Facebook page.)
As part of the Growing Up in Australia study conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, researchers interviewed parents of kids who were 4 to 5 years old, and spoke to them again two years later.
They discovered that kids with earlier bedtimes* had “better health-related quality of life”. And what’s really interesting is that these kids’ mums had improved mental health.
It makes sense
When you think about it, the correlation between early bedtime for kids and better mental health for mums certainly makes sense.
It means that mums too get the chance to relax and get some much-needed rest themselves, keeping in mind that studies show irregular bedtimes may be linked to cognitive issues and mood swings among other issues.
Personally, when my little ones are tucked in bed and fast asleep, my ‘me-time’ begins. I have the time to cook a quick and healthy meal for myself and my husband, which we sit down and enjoy together. I write. I read.
Sometimes I watch a movie with my husband. Other times we sneak out for a date or movie night (of course, with my trusty helper watching the kids). I believe this personal space helps me wind down and be a better mum (and better person).
Confirming all this is Seattle paediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson who reiterates that sleep is certainly linked to our mental health and our mood.
She says, “When we think about mom, it makes a lot of sense to me that if kids are early to bed, mom is going to wind down, get things done, and feel like things are under control.
“There is no question that consistency and prioritization of sleep is going to make your life better.”
*It didn’t matter how many hours the children actually slept but only that they went to bed early.
What time do your kids go to sleep? Do you agree that early bedtime for kids is better for you too? Share your thoughts in a comment below.