Every child has his own personal body clock. That’s why our efforts to enforce a regular bedtime often fall apart. We set the time based on our needs and personal convenience, without considering our child’s natural rhythms.
Here’s how to create a routine that works with your child’s body clock. You will eliminate many of the battles that arise over forced schedules while taking advantage of all the benefits a regular bedtime brings.
Is your bedtime too late?
Studies show that most kids have a natural bedtime that is early in the evening, around 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Many toddlers and preschoolers who go to bed late tend to wake up more frequently in the middle of the night. Even energetic children who seem to be wide awake and running on full steam are usually running on overdrive. That is why they are grumpy, whiny, and wake up too early.
Some of the best signs that your child needs an earlier bedtime are:
1. He tends to have a meltdown right before going to bed
2. He tends to be hyper and have a hard time settling down
3. When you’re in the car in the evening he tends to fall asleep
4. He seems almost hypnotized by the TV at night
5. He doesn’t wake up easily in the morning.
Observe your child’s mood
If you’re not sure what your child’s natural body clock is, watch him closely from 6:30 p.m. onwards. Be vigilant for any signs of tiredness, such as increased whining, difficulty concentrating, temper outbursts, or a sudden jump in energy (many kids try to ‘wake themselves up’ by running around). Some kids also pull their ears or rub their eyes. Others ask for a bottle or a pacifier, or a comfort toy like a teddy bear or blanket. Some will become clingy.
How to change your child to an earlier bedtime
Adjust your child’s bedtime by 15 minutes every day. Observe for any changes in behavior. Is he more pleasant when he wakes up? Does he have an easier time falling asleep? Does he seem to have deeper sleep, and doesn’t wake up as often?
Photo from livestrong.com