“I don’t want to go to bed!!” How many parents haven’t heard this cry from a tired child?
But as difficult as it may be, children benefit from getting to bed early. A new study suggests that putting preschoolers to bed early may help prevent the risk for adolescent obesity. The risk for adolescent obesity was cut in half when children went to bed before 20:00 compared to those who stayed up past 21:00. So, parents, encourage your preschoolers to establish a routine of early bedtime!
Need some tips to get started?
• Spend quality time with your child early in the evening. This will help so that your child is not just wanting to stay up to have more time with you.
• Keep consistent times for going to bed and waking up, even on weekends: this helps keep the body clock in sync.
• Make a bedtime routine that can be kept consistently: brush their teeth, take a bath, say good night to the dog, and read a story. Young children thrive with routines.
• Turn off the TV and all other devices two hours before bedtime. This decreases the effect of the blue light, emitted by electronic devices, which hinders the production of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone.
• Minimize stress before bedtime. To much cortisol, a hormone produced when under stress, will keep anyone wide-a-wake, even a child.
• Create a sleepy environment. The room should be cozy, cool and dark, but not scary.
• Face any potential fears and provide tangible “protection” like a nightlight, a guarding toy or a monster killing spray (water placed in a creative spray bottle can be very effective).
Hardinge, F. (2016) Early Bedtime for Preschoolers. PositiveChoices.com. Retrieved from http://www.positivechoices.com/tips/2016/07/18
Anderson, S. A., Andridge, R., and Whitaker, R. C. (2016) Bedtime in Preschool-Aged Children and Risk for Adolescent Obesity. The Journal of Pediatrics. Vol. 176. 17 – 22. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.005
The Healthline Editorial Team (2013) 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/10-tips-get-your-kids-sleep#1