Are Late Bedtimes Bad for Kids?

Earlier to Bed

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 2 to 3 should get 9 to 13 hours of sleep each night, kids ages 3 to 5 should sleep 10 to 12 hours, and those ages 5 to 12 should sleep at least 8. If your child has to get up early in the morning or you want to give him an earlier bedtime for your own peace of mind, here are tips for making the shift:

  • Push back your child's bedtime by no more than 15 minutes a day -- or, better, by 15 minutes every two to three days.
  • Manipulate your child's exposure to light, which experts say affects the hormones that control our internal clock. To help nudge an internal clock backward, aim for lots of bright light in the morning. Activity and natural light help too. So head to the playground after breakfast. At the other end, dim the lamps as it gets closer to bedtime.
  • Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime, including rowdy play, television watching, and video-game use. Substitute quiet, soothing rituals: a warm glass of milk, a bath, a bedtime story.

Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the April 2001 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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