Kids who get optimal sleep are happier and healthier. Enforcing their bedtimes during the week will help them reach this goal.

mom tucking son into bed
Credit: Rido/Shutterstock 

I am a stickler for a strict bedtime for my kids during the week. Because nothing is worse than greeting a bunch of grumps in the morning who are totally unmotivated to get up and go to school.

Now, a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health finds that enforcing a bedtime during the week means kids are more likely to meet established sleep guidelines, which benefits their overall health and well-being.

Researchers at Public Health Ontario, Canada looked at self-reported data from more than 1,600 parents with at least one kid younger than 18 and found that 94 percent of parents encouraged a specific bedtime. Meanwhile, 84 percent of parents went a step further and enforced bedtime rules. These parents were 59 percent more likely to have kids who met sleep guidelines on weekdays.

Dr. Heather Manson, senior author of the study, explains the different between encouraging and enforcing bedtimes, saying: "We found that 'encouragement' as a parental support was less effective for both weekend and weekday sleep. Enforcement of rules around bedtimes had a significant impact, but only on weekdays. We can conclude that parents enforcing a bedtime on the weekday could help support their child to achieve sufficient sleep."

Manson added, "Sleep is increasingly being recognized as an important determinant of health, and an integral component of healthy living for children, integrated with other behaviours such as physical activity and sedentary time. In the family context, parents' support behaviours towards sleep could play an important role in their child's health."

As an added bonus, another recent study found that when kids go to bed earlier, moms are happier! So, there's kind of no downside to making bedtime a priority on school nights.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.