A recent study was published and proved that practicing consistent bedtime routines with children 0-5 years of age resulted in better overall sleep for the child. The study showed us that when children had a regular bedtime routine of at least 3 times a week, the child went to bed earlier, fell asleep easier and faster, had up to one more hour of sleep throughout the night with less frequent night wakings.
Consistent bedtime routines means better sleep for all.
But I LOVE a study that proves my preaching!
We already know that when a consistent bedtime routine is instilled at a young age, chances are:
- Overall healthy sleep habits are being practiced as well, therefore the child is banking some great restorative sleep consistently.
- This consistent sleep means zero sleep debt so parents aren’t battling with an overtired child at bedtime or one throughout the night.
- Boundaries and bedtime behaviours are firmly established and a tiny toddler dictator isn’t running the bedtime show.
- Practicing a calming routine means a child’s attachment tank (via Andrea Nair) is being properly filled each night. This means the child doesn’t feel a need to seek your attention throughout the night when they should be sleeping AND this routine can actually improve behaviour throughout the day.
So if we already know this then why do I feel a need to write about it? Well, as we head towards summer, the days will get longer, evenings will get brighter, and bedtimes start creeping later and later. Suddenly our kids are up 30 minutes or an hour past their usually bedtime.
It’s important to keep consistent bedtime routines intact, even during the busy summer months. Give yourself 30 minutes before your child’s bedtime to allow enough time to have a nice relaxed routine where your focus is to calm your child and get them ready for bed. Then try and leave the room before they fall asleep.
This way when they wake up throughout the night they aren’t wondering where you are. It also may be a good idea to install some black out blinds to keep things nice and dark at bedtime. Avoid having to explain every single night why they have to go to bed before the sun does.
A typical bedtime routine can include:
- Bath (doesn’t have to be every night.)
- Story time
- Diaper or bathroom trip
- Brushing teeth
- Bedtime song
Good Night Tip! Using visual cues like my bedtime routine flashcards can help prepare your child for sleep while adding a little fun into the mix.
Listen, we didn’t need a study showing us the importance of a bedtime routine. We get it. But even still, we may need a small reminder every now and then.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.