Sweet Bedtime Dreams
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Like all kids, our son avoids bedtime. Seconds after leaving his room with him all tucked in for the night the door will open and he’ll have a need to use the bathroom, get a drink, his flashlight batteries went out or some other reason that necessitated leaving bed. Many times he will lay in bed with his flashlight and read or play until he drifts off to sleep and others he will get out of bed to build Legos or race cars and it’s a constant back and forth to get him to bed. There are many children like our son who just need a little extra time winding down before sweet dreams take over and it’s not really a big deal.
There are however many children who have had a tough time getting on a sleep schedule, don’t sleep well for a variety of reasons and have their sleep interrupted regularly. As adults we know what periodic bouts of insomnia makes us feel the next day and long term what it can do to our health, but for a child those risks are just as serious and can lead to a lifetime of not sleeping well.
All of us need a bedtime routine that supports us winding down and getting to sleep at a regular time every day. Children especially need this and require a lot more sleep than adults to support the changes occurring in their bodies and minds. Children and teenagers on average need 10-14 hours of sleep per night!
Children need rest as much as they need sunlight and playtime. Their bodies and minds are growing at such a rate that rest is sometimes the best time for their to repair and restore for another day of active learning and movement. Without it they will still grow but it won’t be the same. The emotions and mood will be shifted to more negativity and they will not engage as actively in school. They will also likely not eat as well and have a harder time being physically active. Long term this can lead to health and emotional issues that could also hinder their growth.
No parent is perfect and it’s not like children come with a manual. With our son now almost 8 we still stick to a 7:30 to 8:00 PM bedtime for him as much as possible. Sure there are occasions he can stay up a little later to watch a movie with us but for the most part we stick to the regular bedtime, even when school is out in the summer. This gives him a little time to wind down quietly in his room, read or play and then by 8:30 usually he is out. Amazingly, there will be times on the weekends he still sleeps in late despite this early bedtime. Yes, sometimes focusing on getting him to bed on time crunches our evening time to fit everything in like dinner, homework, play and baths. Yes, sometimes it cuts into things we would rather be doing. It however is probably one of the few great things we are doing for him.