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THE TWIN COACH
Early Bed Time for Overtired Children
By Gina Osher (www.thetwincoach.com)
You have tried everything to help your child sleep at night. Exhausted, you ask others what advice they
might have, to which they respond "why don't you try keeping her up during so she'll sleep more at
night?" Well, that seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?
Though this advice may be tempting to follow, I have found that the exact opposite often proves true.
Keeping your baby up longer at night may actually lessen the quality and/or overall amount of sleep
your child receives.
Instead of keeping your child up later, it may be worth your while to instead instate an earlier bedtime.
Many parents groan when I make this suggestion, especially considering the difficulties many children
present at bedtime. But, an early bedtime may prove to be very beneficial for your child's overall health
as well as their quality and length of sleep.
Late bedtimes come with a myriad of problems. When exhaustion sets in, hormones are released to
fight off fatigue. When this process occurs, our bodies enter what could be termed a "fight mode," in
which our minds and bodies are fighting off sleep and may have a difficult time relaxing. Children and
babies who are overtired will be especially affected by this process and will have a difficult time falling
and remaining asleep. Children of different ages need varying amounts of sleep. The typical one-year-old
baby needs approximately 11-12 hours of sleep while toddlers are more likely to require 10-11 hours of
sleep. When setting a bed time for your child, keep in mind...
the amount of sleep they need
what time they normally awaken, and
what time they should go to bed in order to receive the most optimal amount of sleep.
These three factors will help you choose the best bedtime for your child.
Many parents worry that the consequence of an earlier bedtime will be an earlier wake-time. Though it
may seem as though this conjecture would be accurate, the opposite often proves to be true. Children
and babies with an earlier bed time will likely remain asleep until their normal wake-time. Interestingly,
many children will actually stay asleep longer than they did before they had the early bed time!
Exhaustion often results in early waking, which can be avoided by an earlier bed time. Keeping your child
awake later may actually be causing their early wake time.
Selecting a bedtime is often dependent upon when your child normally takes their naps. The bed time
you choose should not be too far from the end of their afternoon nap to assure that your child does not
become overtired. Children 6 months and younger should usually go to bed around 6 or 7 (depending on
their afternoon nap time), while babies and toddlers up to 18 months normally benefit from a 7-8
bedtime. The best bedtime for children above 18 months is dependent upon a variety of factors such as
naptime, daily activities, and individual needs.