• The Importance of Sleep for Kids and Parents

    If you’re struggling with behavior, the first thing to check is whether your children and you are getting enough sleep. Sleep affects mood, attention, learning, and health.

    You’ll need: 1) consistent bedtimes, 2) calming bedtime routines, and 3) firm but loving follow-through.

    Check here for the recommended amount of sleep we all need, by age:

    Consistent bedtime

    It’s important to keep the same bedtime every night. Research finds that children without a regular bedtime have more behavioral problems at school, problems with peers, and emotional difficulties. They also perform worse in reading and math.

    Check the amount of sleep your child needs, count backwards from the time you’ll need to wake them up, and then add 30 minutes for a calming bedtime routine. That should be your child’s bedtime every night. 

    For example:

    We need to leave for school at 7:00 a.m. I’ll need to wake my child at 6:30 a.m.  According to the chart, my child needs 9-12 hours of sleep a night. If I want 10 ½ hours of good sleep for my child, lights out should be at 8:00 p.m. That means that we should start the bedtime routine at 7:30 p.m. EVERY NIGHT.

    • Family schedules should be planned to stick to that 7:30 p.m. bedtime.
    • Don't wait until your child seems sleepy to start bedtime. It’s harder for an overtired child to fall asleep.
    • If co-parenting in two different homes, parents should agree to keep the same bedtime at both homes.
    • We all sleep better with a consistent bedtime. Do a similar calculation for yourself and stick to a regular bedtime, too!  Adults who are well rested can be much more patient, loving, and fun.

    Calming bedtime routine

    The bedtime routine can be a great time to pay attention to your child with no distractions. Put all phones away. The routine can be as simple as: go to the bathroom, put on pajamas, brush your teeth, and read. Read to your child, and once they’re able to read by themselves, continue reading to them! You’ll be able to read something to them that is above their reading level, and it’s a great time for warmth and connection.

    Firm but loving lights out

    After lights out, don’t accidentally reward kids who keep finding reasons to delay sleep. Don’t fight or argue, just tell them, “I know you’d like to stay up longer, but bedtime is bedtime.” Be calm and consistent. You can keep your loving tone of voice while still enforcing the rule. This is a great time to practice warmth and structure.

    Consider keeping all types of screens outside of the bedroom after lights out so they’re not tempted to stay up with their screens, or get back on them when they wake in the night. 

    A consistent bedtime will actually result in fewer power struggles because it’s the same every day. 


    Don't let your little one just fall asleep whenever and wherever!  Consistent bedtimes are healthier.

    Read here for more about the importance of sleep for children, tips on how to help them sleep better, and sleep problems in children: