What Is The Right Time To Send School Going Children To Bed?

Trying to decide upon the right bedtime for your child is a lot more difficult than you might have originally thought.

Trying to decide upon the right bedtime for your child is a lot more difficult than you might have originally thought. A bedtime that is too early leads to you going up and down the stairs a million times; a time that is too late leads to exhausted and cranky children the next day.
You might be wondering if there are ideal bed-times for certain ages and stages. How much sleep do our children biologically need?

When the school breaks up for Christmas or summer holidays, the regular daily routine tends to go out the window. Everyone could do with a break from everyday life and a little bit of wiggle room is really nice. When school returns you might be wondering if it is time to reassess the timings. As a parent, you want to get things right.
You want your child to be well rested and ready for school the next day but you also don’t want to encourage resistance and arguments.
The most important thing for school-going children is that there is a routine in place. There should be expected check-points and symbols that help signify that bedtime is on its way. This is true for older children too as it makes it a lot easier to manage their free time, studies and personal responsibilities/chores without the day running away with itself.

The school sleep routine that worked last year may not work as well this year. Your child’s age will have an impact on the time and bedtime rituals. There are a huge amount of other variables such as the introduction of a new sibling and house moves which can all disrupt the harmony.

According to doctors, children experience great changes in their sleep patterns as they get older. REM sleep is considered vital for cognitive development and functions. It also affects the mind’s ability to store memories. This is the kind of sleep that helps us to feel ready for a new day. The kind that keeps us from falling asleep throughout that day.
Experts believe that going to bed and waking up at the same time is really important. This is where a solid bedtime routine comes in – even if that routine changes or loosens up as your children get older. No matter what your child’s age, experts recommend no screen time directly before bed (that includes phones) as the light from the screen has been scientifically proven to suppress levels of sleep.

Interestingly enough, you might notice that when your child starts at pre-school they may actually go to bed earlier. The official recommendation is that they should be getting about twelve hours of sleep every night. This also happens to be an age where children may show a lot of resistance at bedtime and for this reason, boundaries are really important.

Older school going children (6-12) will require slightly less sleep. At this stage, 9-11 hours of sleep is the recommendation. At this age the quality of sleep is usually slower waves and can be interrupted by night terrors, fearing the dark or wild imaginations/dreams. It is not uncommon for a child to fall asleep at their desk in school and in this case the teacher may approach the subject with the parents. At this age, experts recommend that weekday and weekend bed-times should not vary
by more than one to two hours.

Teenagers are quite often sleep deprived due to the number of commitments, activities and homework/study they have to stay on top of. This activity can make it difficult to get to bed at a time that would ensure a solid 9-10 hours of sleep is had. Puberty also has a lot to answer for. The greatest difficulty at this age is the fact that parents have a lot less control.
Communication is more important at this age than ever before. Good quality sleep is really for the teenager's best interests. It will positively impact relationships, performance at sports and school work. It also has a massive impact on the teenager’s mood and sense of well-being.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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