We have all had times when our children have headed to bed a little bit later than normal. This could be due to a party, a special event, or simply as a treat for them. As a one-off, this isn’t going to have too much of an impact on them, apart from maybe being a bit grumpy the following day. But it is when irregular bedtimes become a regular occurrence, this is when the problems can arise.
A study within the UK took a look 10,000 children and their bedtime habits. It showed that children with non-regular bedtimes will be much more likely to have behavioural difficulties than those that have a more regular bedtime routine.
Why is this? Why do children seem to need a routine at bedtime so much?
Irregular bedtimes mean less sleep
One of the biggest impacts of irregular bedtimes on children is that it is likely to mean that they are not getting as much sleep as they need. As soon as a child hits school age (4 and over) they are going to need to make sure that they get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep every single night. If they are heading to bed late on a regular basis, yet are still getting up the same time the next morning, then they are going to be getting a lot less sleep than they need. This will mean that they are going to be tired and grumpy the following day and will find it hard to concentrate.
Children learn that a set time and routine means sleep
A common problem that many children seem to have when it comes to bedtime is dropping off to sleep and then staying that way. The thing that we need to remember about children is that they are creatures of habit and they learn by repetition. If you stick to the same bedtime every single night, as well as the same routine (such as a warm drink, a story and a quick snuggle) then they are going to know that it is time to go to sleep and they will find it much easier to drop off and then stay asleep.
A child that doesn’t get enough sleep due to a late bedtime, or perhaps because they find it hard to fall asleep, is going to feel tired the next day. They are going to find it hard to concentrate on their school work, they are going to lack energy and they may even feel upset that they are so tired.
This will not only have an impact on their behaviour, but it will also have an impact on their mood and how they feel about themselves too. They may find school difficult, they may find it hard to socialise with their friends and there is also a much higher chance that they will mis-behave too.
It is easy to see why it is so important to make sure that you understand the importance of your child not only getting to bed at a regular time, but having a routine too. Make an effort to get them to bed at a good time and we can promise you that you will soon see the benefit.