What Time Should Your Kids Be in Bed?

Most kids are going to bed too late.

Current research shows that our children’s’ bedtimes have been creeping later and later since the 1970s. At the same time, the school day is out-of-whack with most families’ schedules and we’re all a little guilty of over-scheduling our kids during their downtime.

The result? A nation of kids and tweens who are chronically overtired.

Research also shows that most children thrive with consistent, earlier bedtimes. This is because not all sleep is created equal: the quality of sleep is oftentimes more important than the quantity. Throughout the night we cycle between light and deep sleep, but we have a much greater percentage of deep sleep during the first half of the night. So a child who sleeps from 7pm – 6am will get more restorative sleep than one who sleeps from 9pm – 8am, even though both will have slept for 11 hours total.

So is there an ideal time for every kid to be in bed? Unfortunately not. Your child’s bedtime should be responsive to their daytime sleep (if any) and their activity levels during the day. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that 7pm is a good bedtime for most 4-6 year olds and 8pm is good for most 7-9 year olds. But, in the end, it comes down to observing your child and playing detective to see if your current bedtime really works.

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